Not the Monthly Post

The Dark Places of the Future

Over most of the last decade now, I’ve watched celebrations of the New Year become more and more muted, and I think it’s far more likely than not that this trend will continue when 2018 gets hauled off to the glue factory a little less than a week from now. No doubt plenty of people will be glad to see it go, but any enthusiasm engendered by that departure will be mixed with, if not swamped by, uncomfortable thoughts about what 2019 will bring in its place.

Those worries are by no means pointless. Despite the claims still retailed by the increasingly ragged chorus of believers in perpetual progress, industrial civilization is no longer progressing. Rather, it’s slipping bit by bit down the trajectory I’ve titled the Long Descent—the process, averaging one to three centuries in length, by which every previous human civilization has ended in a dark age. That’s not something that can be stopped or reversed; it unfolds from conflicts hardwired into the basic ecological and economic structures of civilization; several familiar milestones are already past, others are coming into sight on the road ahead, and one implication of that reality is that the rest of your life, dear reader, will be spent in a civilization in decline.

That doesn’t mean we face a future of unrelieved gloom. Decline is a chaotic process; losses in one place or decade are routinely balanced by partial recoveries in a different place or a different decade, and it’s also quite common for conditions to improve significantly for the poor and the working classes while they decline drastically for those who are used to living higher on the hog—the rich, yes, but also the middle and upper middle classes, which flourish mightily on the extreme complexity of a civilization at zenith and then end up twisting in the wind as economic and social simplification render their skills unnecessary.

Social historians have been pointing out for years that as Rome fell, those of the working poor who were able to stay out of the way when barbarian armies came through saw significant improvement in their standards of living, while the senatorial and equestrian classes found themselves plunged into poverty. The same process is arguably under way now, as real estate prices and other vehicles for the wealth of the well-to-do plunge in value while employment booms at the bottom of the job pyramid. There are plenty of factors feeding into that dramatic shift; the Trump administration’s tariff and immigration policies have given a hefty push to changes already being driven by the twilight of US global hegemony and the insidious decline in net energy from fossil fuels.

Will it continue in something like a linear fashion? Almost certainly not—but I suspect that one way or another, things are going to move that way just a little more often than not over the years and decades and centuries to come. In the decades immediately ahead, for example, those young people who let themselves be talked into seeking a university education are far more often than not going to end up much less economically comfortable than those who ignore the conventional wisdom and go for trade schools and apprenticeships instead; those who focus on trying to get rich by speculation are going to do worse than those who focus on trying to make a living by producing goods and services themselves, and so on.

That is to say, many of the comfortable assumptions on which our chattering classes base their notions of the future passed their pull dates quite some time ago, and are beginning to smell decidedly overripe. With that in mind, it’s time to revisit a venerable tradition on my blogs, review my predictions from a year ago, and offer predictions about the year about to begin.

You can find last year’s predictions here. For some reason I didn’t do as I’ve habitually done in past years, and finish up the post with a paragraph summarizing my predictions. Thus I’ll take them one at a time.

“My first prediction for the new year, therefore, is that one of the biggest stories of the year will be an event that nobody has predicted.” That was a direct hit. The black swan in question? North Korea’s dramatic reversal of decades of military confrontation, and the opening up of prospects for an enduring peace in that end of east Asia. Nobody, but nobody, predicted that. It’s a huge shift, not least because Russian railway engineers are now busy making plans to extend the Trans-Siberian Railroad south through the Korean peninsula to South Korea’s booming ports, opening up the Pacific basin to year-round trade with Russia and its central Asian allies.

“The Democratic dream of a sweeping midterm victory that will leave Trump paralyzed in 2019 and 2020 will almost certainly go whistling down the wind.” The Democrats did better than I expected, but not well enough to matter. While they took the House, Trump tightened his control on the Senate, giving him much more leeway in appointing cabinet officials and Federal judges, and impeachment doesn’t mean a thing unless 2/3 of the Senate votes to convict, so he’s safe for the next two years. (Claims by Democrats to the contrary show an astonishing ignorance of the basic principles of US constitutional law.) His dismissal of Attorney General Sessions and his sharp U-turn on the Syrian war aren’t the acts of a president without options—quite the contrary, he’s clearly been emboldened by the change in the Senate.

“The US is trying to carry out that most difficult of military operations, a staged retreat through hostile territory… expect the US to bluster and threaten in an attempt to win breathing room for its retreat from empire.” There’s been plenty of that over the last year, with saber rattling and occasional petulant bursts of missiles aimed at nations too poorly defended to shoot back. The troop withdrawals took longer to start than I expected, but they’re under way, so that one was another hit.

“Expect the rise and fall of speculative bubbles to be a constant feature of the business pages all year.” Check. That one really was shooting fish in a barrel.

“Meanwhile, outside the narrowing circle of the official economy, the United States is rapidly becoming a Third World nation in which off-book employment and subsistence economics are becoming increasingly the norm. I don’t expect any significant change in that picture this year, just a continuation of vapid cheerleading from the media and increasingly grim conditions in the real world.” That one I missed completely. My assumption was that it would take a couple of years of sensible tariffs and enforcement of the immigration laws to cause a significant upturn in the working class end of the job market, and I was quite wrong. The expansion of working class jobs is still geographically patchy and fragile, but it’s significant, and if it continues, a great many imbalances in our economic life may be able to right themselves.

“We’re going to see more big storms, more big floods, more big fires, and the streets of Miami Beach and a hundred other low-lying coastal communities will fill a little deeper with salt water every time they get a high tide and an onshore wind, but nothing’s going to be done about it.” That was another easy call, and of course it was quite correct.

There were a few other stray predictions in there, but those were the important ones. By and large, despite one partial miss and one major miss, I think I did fairly well.

So what can we expect over the twelve months that will begin shortly?  One thing, I think, we can be sure of. You know the great changes that so many people are hoping for—political, economic, cultural, ecological, spiritual, and so on? They’re not going to happen in 2019.

A year from now, we’re not going to look back on 2019 as the year when Trump was driven from office and everything became either wonderful or horrible, depending on your political prejudices. It won’t have been the year that the economy rolled over and died, or the year when either the political correctness of the Left or the patriotic correctness of the Right finally swept all before it. It won’t have been the year when we finally started to solve the problem of climate change, nor will it have been the year when Gaia put on her hobnailed boots and gave our species the stomping we arguably deserve. As for the leap to a new level of consciousness that’s been pulling a no-show since long before December 21, 2012 became just another day—well, let’s just say that if you hold your breath waiting for that, you’re going to turn very blue indeed.

As 2019 winds up a year from now, furthermore, the dollar and the Euro will still have value, there will still be products on the shelves of your local grocery, gasoline-powered automobiles will still be lurching wastefully down the streets, airliners will still be rumbling even more wastefully through the skies, and more Americans will be concerned with the outcome of the upcoming Super Bowl game than with the subjects this blog discusses. I can say that with perfect confidence, and not just because I’ve been right every other time I’ve predicted it.

The thing that people most often miss when they climb aboard the bandwagon of pop-culture futurology is the pace of historic change. One of the really serious downsides of the way that history is taught in today’s schools, especially but not only in the United States, is that the bite-sized overviews of entire eras that get passed on to students make history seem a lot faster than it is, and the habit of imposing judgments in hindsight hides the sheer obscurity of historical change. Were I to have the task of designing a history curriculum for schoolchildren, I’d take the number of weeks in a school year, subtract one at the beginning and one at the end, and select one year in history to study in each of the others—and not the big important years, either.

This week, let’s say, the year we’re studying is 1763; since this is an American history class, we’re going to immerse ourselves in what people were talking about, what they were reading, what they thought was important, what daily life was like for them, in the American colonies that year. The students would learn to recite a lesson from a hornbook, lunch on hasty pudding and succotash, take in articles extracted from the newspapers of the day, and in a couple of dozen other ways get a sense of what life was actually like in the colonies just over a decade before the Revolution broke out—and it would waste the entire experience to highlight everything that led to the Revolution, or to whatever other big issue we in 2019 consider important.

In 1763 people weren’t bracing themselves for the Revolution—the thought of rebelling against King George was on no one’s mind yet. Other issues, most of them completely forgotten today, occupied the minds of the colonists just then, and the thought that they were living in the run-up to one of the few really world-shaking eras of social change in modern history would not have occurred to them at all. That’s an awareness worth cultivating. One of the core points of the study of history is to help us realize that the past really is a foreign country, and it exists in its own right, not just as a prelude to here and now.

In exactly the same way, if a school somewhere in North America in the year 2234 happens to use the kind of curriculum I’ve just sketched out, and 2018 is one of the years that’s chosen for a week’s intensive study, the teacher will have to make sure to present 2018 as it was, without slanting the presentation so that it highlights the issues that would shake North America and the world in the great convulsions of the mid-2020s. We don’t know what those issues are yet, and so the hypothetical students in 2234 would listen instead to the political posturings of utterly forgotten figures named Trump and Pelosi, giggle at the quaintness of programs on a simulated television screen, try to figure out why people liked fast-food hamburgers, and try to get as close as they could to our experience of 2018—an experience that includes, as a central feature, the fact that the world doesn’t change as fast as we like to think it does, and we don’t actually know which way it’s going.

So the first thing we know about 2019 is that it’s going to look a lot like 2018. It’s possible to draw some straightforward conclusions from that. The ecological news from 2019, for example, is going to be consistently bad. We can expect more big storms, more big fires, more big floods. The economic burden from weather-related disasters is going to keep ratcheting up, and Federal disaster relief funds and insurance payouts are going to cover less of it. Whatever areas take the brunt of the coming year’s climate disasters can count on the same mix of short-term obsessive attention from the media, followed by long-term neglect and partial abandonment, that’s become standard in the wake of climate disasters in the US for more than a decade.

If the area where you live draws the short straw, and you happen to be among the survivors, you’ll get to see some eye-opening sights. If you don’t, don’t expect the media to cover it at all. Meanwhile the Left will continue to insist in ringing tones that someone else, somewhere else, ought to stop burning carbon so they can keep living their current lifestyles, and the Right will keep on scrunching its eyes shut, plugging its ears with its fingers, and insisting that climate change will go away if they just disbelieve in it hard enough. That is to say, nothing will be done.

In the same way, the great divide between Left and Right will continue to form a chasm across the heart of American society, across which not even the simplest message can be communicated without distortion. The mainstream Left will continue to demand the policies of free trade and open borders that, not coincidentally, provide the privileged among them with ultracheap consumer goods and inexpensive nannies. The insurgent populist Right will continue to demand the policies of trade barriers and strictly enforced immigration laws that, also not coincidentally, are driving the current boom in US manufacturing, with its attendant profits for the rich and jobs for the flyover-state working classes.

In a functioning democracy, the two sides would hammer out some kind of compromise that allows them both to get the things they most want. Unfortunately, we don’t happen to have a functioning democracy right now. Both sides act as though the only acceptable outcome is that they get everything they want and the other side gets nothing, and try to wrap the realities of naked self-interest in the unconvincing garb of moral posturing. Until both sides grow up a little and shed the toddler-habit of throwing tantrums when they don’t get what they want, politics in the US will remain hopelessly dysfunctional.

Another thing that will continue in 2019 is the ongoing decline in US global hegemony. As the US dollar loses its status as the world’s reserve currency, and more and more nations arrange to handle mutual trade in their own currencies, the arrangements that have allowed the US to print money at will to cover its soaring debts will become increasingly problematic. I don’t expect the US to be forced to choose between default and hyperinflation next year, or any time in the next few years; that’s coming, but we have a way to go before it comes knocking on the door. At the same time, I expect issues surrounding the US national debt to heat up in 2019, and the US and global economy will be in for some rough sledding for that reason among others.

Trump’s decision to bring US troops home from Syria and begin a serious drawdown from Afghanistan was as overdue as it was necessary. As US hegemony slips away, one of the essential tasks of American statecraft involves walking back unsustainable commitments around the world, leaving Eurasia and Africa to manage their own affairs, and establishing more sustainable relationships with the nations in the US “near abroad.” An end to US military adventurism in the Middle East and improved relations with Mexico are crucial steps along that path, and it’s to the Trump administration’s credit that several movements toward both these goals have been taken  in 2018, but much more needs to be done. Whether that will happen in 2019 is impossible to say at this point. The sooner it happens, the less traumatic the transition to a post-imperial America will be.

The economy? A very mixed bag. As I write this, stock markets worldwide have had a very bad month or so, real estate prices in a great many overpriced markets have hit the skids, and a range of other measures that show how much excess cash has piled up in the speculative end of the economy are looking decidedly thin and weak just now. To borrow a bit of jargon, economic shifts are usually overdetermined—that means they have more causes driving them than are actually necessary to get the effect—but one neglected factor that I think is feeding into the current slumps is a rebalancing of wealth back to the productive sectors of the US economy.

For decades now, soaring stock prices and equally rosy valuations for other speculative assets have happened in tandem with serious economic distress for the majority of Americans. That was anything but accidental: a galaxy of government policies, free-trade agreements and the tacit acceptance of unlimited illegal immigration among them, forced down working-class wages in the US to near-starvation levels while channeling increased profits to the investing classes. Now that a number of those policies have been reversed, wealth is beginning to flow back into the productive economy, and the speculative economy is losing air as a result.

I expect to hear from a great many pundits, and plenty of people with investments as well, that this means a new Great Depression, if not the end of the world. Popular though that claim will no doubt be, my best guess is that it’s quite wrong. Just as the stock market soared to unimaginable levels while millions of working class Americans struggled to get by, stock market prices and other asset values can lurch and stumble back down to something like their historic range, while millions of working class Americans cash their paychecks every Friday afternoon and wonder what all the fuss is about. I’m not certain this is going to happen—the investment classes have a lot of clout, and will doubtless try everything they can think of to shove the pain off onto somebody else—but at this point I think it’s far and away the most likely outcome.

Will unexpected events grab a share of the headlines in 2019? No doubt some will. The future has plenty of dark places where not even the outlines of events to come can be seen. Those of my readers who want to insist that those dark places contain whatever drastic reversal of current trends they most want to hope for, though, are going to face the same disappointment this year that they’ve faced year after weary year in the past. The world doesn’t change as fast as we like to think it does, and we don’t actually know which way it’s going: keep those things in mind, and you’re a good deal less likely to be blindsided by the year ahead.

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Two brief announcements before we close. First of all, I’m delighted to announce that the first two volumes of The Weird of Hali, my epic fantasy with tentacles, are now available in paperback as well as ebook formats. A fantasy series that stands H.P. Lovecraft on his head, with the tentacled Great Old Ones revealed as the old gods of Nature and those supposedly sinister multiethnic cultists as the good guys after all, may seem worlds away from the issues discussed in this blog, but sometimes fiction’s the best way to talk about certain far from fictional issues. Interested? You can order copies of The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth and its sequel, The Weird of Hali: Kingsport, by slithering over here and here.

Second, it’s been over a year and a half since I last took a break from blogging, and it’s time to put my feet up for a month and catch my breath. There will be no posts on this blog in the month of January 2019; expect the first post of the new year on February 6th. See you then!

509 Comments

  1. ” those young people who let themselves be talked into seeking a university education are far more often than not going to end up much less economically comfortable than those who ignore the conventional wisdom and go for trade schools and apprenticeships instead”

    One of the cashiers here, a young man putting himself through college but having doubts, mentioned that a lot of the major software companies are now offering on-the-job training, and really letting go of the requirement for a particular degree in a particular subject. Software is software, of course, with its own attendant problems, but I find this encouraging!

  2. John–

    First off, best wishes for a relaxing and well-deserved break. I cannot say that I am not (rather selfishly) already wanting the hiatus to be over with, because the weekly discussions here are something I truly look forward to, but I can certainly understand the need for a periodic vacation. I’ll make sure to raise a pint or two during January vaguely in the direction of New England 🙂

    Secondly, being the math-type I am, the image that came to me as I was reading your observation of how we cannot know the importance of events while in the middle of those events was rather like Indra’s Net, but with probability distributions. That is, all these events are interconnected to some degree–what I had for breakfast this morning, the route Francis Ferdinand’s car took that fateful day, the first shot fired by somebody on the Lexington green–but their interpretation is always relative to a certain perspective. That is, the meaning of a particular event is not a crisply defined thing, but a subjective judgement. And when we analyze history, we isolate certain threads of that vast web and call them important, but someone else viewing the same scope of time from a different perspective and a different set of values (or conclusions) might isolate a completely different subset of threads. And so we project what we see as important and view all that came before as irrevocably leading to us in the Here and Now, but no such objective truth like that exists.

    Thirdly, at something of a tangent but related to the coming shift in hegemony away from the US, I had occasion over the holidays to watch a number among a series of Chinese films. Some time ago, I became a fan of the Chinese detective fiction of van Gulik (his “Judge Dee” series), based on the historical figure of a Tang dynasty magistrate of that name. Another similar figure in Chinese literature is Judge Bao (I do not know if he is also a historical figure or not) whose exploits are set during the Song dynasty (which, if I have my chronology right, followed the Tang after a period of dissolution). In any event, I found a series of films about Justice Bao on Youtube and watched the first three (with English subtitles). It was a fascinating experience to see the world through a completely different cultural lens and I found the films quite impressive. While there is some amount of “wire-fu”, the martial arts were marginal to the story-lines, which focused on justice, duty, honor, punishing the corrupt, and protecting the weak and the wronged.

    Long-winded, I realize, but the point I’m coming to is this: when I came to the end of that first film and its final scene, I had a sudden vision of a nation writing its mythology, mining its past for the image of itself to project to the world and its people, and the ideals for which those people would value (order, filial duty, honor to the ruler, obligations to the greater good, right living). It was an image of vigor and energy and pride. And I saw a nation reaching to take the Mantle of Heaven from an aged and declining power whose own myths and ideals had worn thin in time.

    While this will not occur in 2019, most assuredly, I wonder if in hindsight we might not be able to isolate various threads spanning the events of that year and show how they led to that end…

  3. I always enjoy reading your end-of-year comments and predictions. I certainly am rooting for your prediction that if the money stream fails for the mighty, it won’t have much impact on those who are actually working for a living.

    @Tripp thanks for the low carbon footprint shout out last week. Not sure if I deserve it, as I did a lot of driving last year … 😉

    Finally, with your permission I’d like to present a link to my final video of the year – Atlantis. It’s more about the music and lyrics for me of course, but I had to put something out this year and here it is. Link is below. Maybe it’s a little NSFW? Depends where you work, I guess …

  4. If I were to give advice to anyone young to help prepare for the future it would be to prepare for a job in the economy as it exists and to learn a practical skill. e.g. my daughter is very well educated but for years grew a lot of her own food. She can also darn and do patchwork. Her young daughters took riding lessons for a couple of years and can handle horses very comfortably. One son is a sheet metal tradesman and a daughter-in-law is a jeweller. They often discuss metal work together.
    Yes history does take time and people mostly cope with their lives.
    Enjoy your break. I am a firm believer in holidays.

  5. Enjoy your holiday, Mr. Greer! It is certainly a well deserved one! Thank you for a wonderful reminder of how slow history moves in relation to our mayfly lives; thank you!

    I do disagree on one point with you regarding the possibility of impeachment of the president: the social climber class that the vast majority of politicians come from are never thrilled when one of the oligarchs wants to play in “their” sandbox. The oligarchs are supposed to stay aloof from the squalor of politics. They are supposed to just pay their money (to both sides, of course) and make the phone call when they want something in particular. For one of the billionaire class to actually take office (even nouveau riche like Trump) is a departure from the order of things for the political class and while they might accept the inevitable, they will never be happy about it.

    Therefore, my prediction is the House will impeach Trump after Mueller’s full report. The Senate trial will be the media circus of the year and the cliffhanger will be which of the disgruntled Republican senators will be the last to commit to flushing the orange turd and which will be the first to kiss Pence’s ring. The naked graft of the Trump family is an embarrassment to more intelligent and more discreet oligarchs (those who have laws changed to make what they want to do legal before they do it) so there is some ‘cover’ for Republican Senators that vote to convict. IF the evangelicals reject Trump and move to support Pence, who is far more palatable to them than the amoral, irreligious Trump, the Senators from the Bible Belt will be reassured that they are ‘safe’ to vote to convict.

    I’m thinking even odds or better that Trump resigns during the Senate trial in exchange for a pardon from Pence. He is clearly a narcissistic sociopath though, so his ego and lack of connection to reality might make him fight to the bitter end. Or there is a slim chance that he recognizes the situation as critical for himself and makes a ‘deal’ that leaves him in office but with his hands tied. The petulant ‘firing’ of General Mattis after his resignation letter was made public means that the national security apparatus is in chaos and the one thing that no sane oligarchy likes is chaos… especially regarding the nuclear football!

    And I have one question regarding your comment regarding, “…the current boom in US manufacturing,” Specifically, what is your source for this information? From the news I am able to piece together, it doesn’t look like there is any resurgence in manufacturing, let alone a ‘boom’. But it is hard to know what is true in a blizzard of misinformation!

    As always, thank you for being a voice of sanity in the wilderness!

  6. I wonder for a philosophical justification for assessing the likeliness of a future trend.

    People either always claim to know exactly what the future is (colonizing Mars is a popular subject),
    or claim there is no way of knowing the future, which is oftentimes if you say, Long Descend and everything, and they reply but Technology and everything, because you cannot foresee the future!

    Rather frequent is the philosophical non-argument of “people didn’t believe we could fly someday a hundred years ago!”, usually implying that therefore technological progress will continue endlessly.
    Once I replied, “well and maybe in a hundred years time people will say they couldn’t imagine a hundred
    years ago that technology would not progress endlessly”.

    Another example that at least seems to make sense to9 most is that you know you will die and everyone,
    just not when, usually.

    I mean, we could take statistics and risk assessment as our way to assess predictability, but even that can be murky territory. Not the absolute truth we wish for.

    Our host mentioned the Topoi once, the basic agreements of necessary terms when people want a fruitful discussion.
    Which is almost never part of modern discussions on TV or the Internet or wherever.

    But furthermore I have the feeling that many people don’t even know and could never formulate
    what their Topoi are, where the objective and ideology free difference between a silly and a solid
    future prediction lies, and many other basic assumptions and definitions they harbor, but seemingly
    not consciously.

  7. Thank you very much John, for all the wonderful thoughts during 2018. Regarding the continuous decline of the US empire and its minions, I want to remind you that another empire, which more accurately represents humanity, is doing great. A far larger sampling/representation of human civilization comprising a country that is three times the size of the US is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with an exploding middle class, with a young generation eager and able to buy their own homes, and looking forward to an even more prosperous future. I am talking about China, although other regions (India comes to mind) are improving as well. Of course the same problems of fossil fuel depletion exist. But in contrast to that in the US, these are being addressed. Entire large city transportation systems are being revamped with vastly lower energy consuming electric vehicles replacing fossil fuel, albeit at lower speeds, using 10-50 times less energy (compare 3 hp electric bike or trike vs 150 hp car or truck in the US). Vast regions are experiencing unprecedented prosperity and the people thereof are very supportive and proud of their nascent empire, and are very optimistic.

    We will see how the principle and most important country on the planet and its growing empire adapts to a defossilzed energy world, but so far they are building an impressive assortment of solar panel factories, wind factories, new nuclear plants and all the rest. Further, I note that China has taken over most areas of scientific and engineering progress (based on my perspective as a patent attorney in electronics and molecular biology). America and the dying empire is a backwater both technologically and economically and rapidly changing places with an assertive and confident culture that is rapidly growing a middle class that is much larger in scope and effect compared to the decay occurring in America. Young people there are excited about their better future and look forward to a better life that is already happening. Further, the leaders are engineers and directing the country into renewables and sustainable energy, at least much more than that occurring in the US.

    From the viewpoint of a world citizen, things are not too bad (hundreds of millions doing better from an economic and standard of living perspective each year), albeit not from an environmental perspective……………………

    I think that Americans are too narcissist and self absorbed to see the real picture.

  8. John,

    May you have a happy New Year’s and a wonderfully refreshing break.

    I was delighted to see you put forth the possibility that while the tertiary economy might do some crashing and burning while it falls back to Earth; the secondary economy, especially for the working class, might just keeping on going. I’ve been mulling this idea over for some time and I think I might have even mentioned it on your blog in a comment. There should be some prayers that it proves true.

    I have a friend who is an editor at the New York Times. He is very good person. Having worked in the oil and chemical industry for almost two decades, I have much sympathy for the position I think he is in and wonder how he has allowed himself to recognized about what the Times is really doing in its reporting on Trump and other issues. The Trump issue is of course that the Times, and most of the rest of MSM, has monetized the big guy by giving the affluent the totally negative picture they crave, instead of the balance picture that could help them, ahh, get someone else elected President in 2020.

    As I have said before, the next two years are going to be very interesting.

    Looking forward to your next posts in February!

  9. Speaking of the interminable “left”/”right” divide in US politics, as mentioned in the last post, I’m going to work to pass a “consent to secede” resolution for California in the KY legislature. The late Bill P will be in my thoughts as I go about this…
    Speaking of investments, I’m hopeful that 2019 will be the year we see some bubbles pop (w/out bailouts). I’m hopeful that the tech bubble will burst and take out a lot of unprofitable apps and services w/it, and lead to an overall retrenchment of the internet. Hopefully, the higher ed and healthcare bubbles will pop as well. As for a Depression, everyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time knows how supportive I am of a Depression, just so long as Trump does as FDR did and ensures that the goods and services economy keeps going while the financial sector crashes and burns.

  10. I’m sure you would make an excellent history teacher, JMG—that’s a very nice syllabus. But man, I would hate to be a future-student learning about 2018—what a boring year!

  11. Enjoy your break! Don’t give a thought to your millions of suddenly deprived fans, wandering the internet in despair, voices crying in the electronic wilderness…

    Is Magical Monday on the other site also taking January off?

  12. I have taken to looking for signposts at the ground level pointing to how decline is proceeding, as the media’s coverage of things that don’t fit the narrative is terrible. One of the things I have seen a lot of lately in Portland’s “Hot” housing market, especially in the trendiest neighborhoods are zombie houses and zombie building lots. The zombie house is one that was constructed on an expensive vacant lot or tear down with the assumption that by the time the house was finished prices would by sky high. Now many of them sit 3/4’s finished, or sometimes 90% finished behind chain link fences, all construction halted.I assume costs are running ahead of plan, and the banks arn’t Buying in to the builders fantasy of selling price. The same is happening to lots that have cleared, approved for a given house plan with upfront fees paid, but the build no longer pencils out. When I point these out to people I know, especially readers of The NYT and such , their typical reply is that the construction market is so hot that they can’t get workers. Delusion still reigns supreme.

  13. Thank you, Mr. Greer; I don’t always agree with your comments, but they are generally intelligent and provocative. Have a Happy New Year and a refreshing break!

  14. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Judging by the heat the idea of secession is getting, I’d say it’s an idea who’s time is come. Wasn’t too long ago when secessionists were in the 2nd category, not the 3rd…

  15. I’m making a New Year’s resolution to take the fist out of the velvet glove, and to do away w/the niceties I reserve for day-to-day living, and be more like I am here on the list. I have a talent for getting under people’s skin and causing them to loose it, ’bout time I start using it.

  16. Enjoy your time off, JMG!

    Trump’s continued attempts to roll back the Empire’s military deployments are, to my mind, an unalloyed Good Thing ™. There will be fewer people harmed or killed by American forces, less destruction of homes and property, more military people home with their families, fewer American troops injured or killed fighting in “wars” that mean absolutely nothing.

    Say what you like about Trump (and there’s plenty to say), but he’s trying to end some of the endless wars. That alone distinguishes him from every other American president since Carter.

  17. Yes, you deserve a well-earned vacation from blogging! Plus, it will give me a chance to catch up with reading your December posts plus the comments; between mandatory overtime and busy, family filled holidays, I am woefully behind. Relax, and have a Happy New Year, John! (Also, a Happy New Year to the readership!)

    Joy Marie

  18. Enjoy your break! Does this mean we’ll pick up with the next chapter of the Cosmic Doctrine in February?

    Also, could you give us any more details about the expansion of working class jobs in the US? You’ve mentioned this several times, but for those of us outside the US it’s nearly impossible to see through the media fog or know where to look for examples of this kind.

  19. @isabelcooper
    It could be that the software companies have figured out that computer science graduates if they come from somewhere that is an applied course, they’ll be trained in programming languages that were popular 5-10 years ago, and otherwise if it’s a theoretical course, that’s all well and good to have a small number of clever people of that type but most companies won’t want their entire workforce to be such.

  20. JMG–have a good holiday from the blog.

    A data point on disaster recovery. In line with the memory hole into which one year’s disasters disappear there was little mention on the national news that the Campfire fire that destroyed Paradise CA came only a year after a fire in a very nearby area, the Cascade Fire in Loma Rica. My sister lives in Loma Rica and was very fortunate. Although the fire destroyed several trees on the property no humans or pets were lost or injured and her house and outbuildings were not damaged. However she reports that rows of trees marked for cutting by PG & E because they are growing under power lines have not been cut yet; many people are still without homes; many plan not to rebuild.

  21. I wish you peace, repose, and rejuvenation during your break! I will miss you – and this community – and will be delighted to rejoin everyone on February 6th.

  22. Can’t wait ’til Feb 6? Even if you’re a diligent long-time reader of JMG’s blogs, The Blood of the Earth will give you many fresh insights. Especially recommended for those trying to understand the dynamics of activism, and the near future discussed in this post.

    Only a third of the way through and really wishing I’d read it sooner.
    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-08-19/review-the-blood-of-the-earth-by-john-michael-greer/

    Another comment, relating the discussion on art earlier this month. Knowing that each book sold only provides authors a dollar or so, and that most of us have limited funds for books, I’d like to encourage those who can afford to do so, to consider setting up a recurring “micro-patronage” in appreciation for all the wonderful material here.

    Blessings to all!

  23. @ Aaron Blue, if I may, many thanks for sharing your song here — it’s seriously cool, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

  24. Okay now I will look at my own predictions:

    “Varun’s idea of a black swan contest appeals to me. This one is hard since it requires original thought with the high probability of failure! Let me put on my fantasist’s hat and begin:

    * We begin to see a new form of youthful rebellion get press; rejecting digital technology. At least some kids get back at Mom and Dad by not using cell-phones or the internet and instead reading books and going on adventures (ironically like their parents did). This will be edgy and fun. While I am certain that this is already happening I imagine this to be the beginning of something of a Gandhian resistance. First there will be a tone of incredulous mockery, then fighting, violence etc, finally these people will, if they stick it through, win in making this sensible lifestyle option mainstream. This year, if I am correct, we can look forward to the incredulous mockery.”

    Wrong!

    “* Relatedly, a new word or concept is introduced to the vernacular that describes the sort of zombie-like way people use screen technology while indicating that it is a mental disorder. This term will be accessible, catchy and gain traction and wind up in a dictionary down the pike.”

    Correct; the term “screenager.”

    “* With youtube in shambles, we see some talented, charismatic figure from the Alt-Light break from fringe to center in a surprising way. Not primarily as a pundit; rather as a musician, artist or story teller who uses the Alt-Light perspective but doesn’t speak only of politics.”

    To the best of my knowledge, wrong.

    * The political Balkanization we see results in some organized method of targeting of folks IRL. Marks on the door or windows, etc. More targeted political violence.

    Debatable. There appears to be quite a bit of financial targeting of unpopular viewpoints.

    “* The assassination of several “Twitter personalities”.”

    To the best of my knowledge, wrong.

    “* The creation of an edgy “anything goes and nothing matters” video sharing website, where disturbing videos of performative murder and suicide go viral.”

    To the best of my knowledge, wrong.

    “* The advent of a “Suicide Game” in the age group 7-18 that gains traction resulting in few deaths, but the opening acts of a new mass-hysteria that deals squarely in fears of memetic contamination.”

    Well, there were a lot of school shootings…

    “* Some psychiatric medication that has been prescribed recklessly for years is recalled, to public scandal, for creating progressive worsening of mental symptoms; either dementia or some form of pernicious madness.”

    To the best of my knowledge, wrong.

    * There is a public book burning of a yet to be released book that will shape the mythic contents of the next two decades (think of the furor around Harry Potter).

    To the best of my knowledge, wrong.

    “* Similarly, the Death of Harry Potter. Not the character, but its mythic hold on the collective narrative. The whole deriding of “Special Snowflakes” is in part a reaction against the Harry Potter myth of inherent, easy, specialness and lots of free stuff. “Harry Potter” the mythic structure, will be symbolically vanquished by something that distills The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones into something more symbolically rich and mythic. Explicitly, part of the myth will be the vanquishing of Harry Potter & Co.”

    To the best of my knowledge, wrong.

    I look forward to analyzing how many hits there are here, if any, in 2019.”

    So it looks that I scored mostly misses, which I guess makes sense since I choose to put on a fantasist’s hat and wrote for things that seemed like plausible and exciting sci-fi plots. I think I can say I landed about two out of nine.

  25. One more comment. Trump’s announcement of withdrawal from Syria has been met with a chorus of “what about the Kurds?” It is hard to describe how disgusted this makes me. The US never cared diddlly squat about the Kurds when it was Turkey we needed to kowtow to to keep missiles pointed at the Soviet Union. Then we had the opportunity to make an equitable division of Iraq and give the Kurds their homeland, but that would have put the lie to our pretense that we had not ‘conquered’ Iraq for our own purposes–so we didn’t. Then when the Kurds get pulled into the struggle against the Islamic State they are suddenly our noble allies who can’t be left to mercy of the brutal Asad. Peoples of all nations need to study American history–maybe they would learn not to trust us. But to use the Kurds as an excuse to stay mired in an unwinnable war and continue the killing is just appalling. I bet most of the people whining online about the Kurds could not even define a Kurd, just as most can’t tell you the difference between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims or which nations belong to which factions.

  26. Dudley, thank you.

    Isabel, that’s excellent news — thank you for passing it on! Once young people really grasp that that a college degree isn’t useful, I expect the higher education industry to suffer a savage slump, and a lot of big-name schools will likely close their doors forever. A good thing, too — what started out as a means of advanced education has turned into a high-pressure sales force pushing predatory loans via false pretenses on a vulnerable population.

    Mac, thank you.

    David, a century ago the United States had that kind of confidence and that kind of vision of its history; a century before that, it was Britain’s turn. A century or two from now, I expect China to be the tired empire in decline and some other nation will be bursting with confidence and ready to take the lead.

    Aron, many thanks for the music video! It’s certainly safe where I work. 😉

    JillN, your kids are much better prepared for the real world than most. Well done.

    Islandpoet, the insistence on the part of the left that this or that or the other thing will surely bring Trump down has become a running joke among Trump’s fans, you know. By all means keep longing for it, but I don’t recommend holding your breath. As for manufacturing, have you looked at employment and payrolls in the manufacturing sector? Here’s one source of many.

    Labor Case, it’s certainly interesting to speculate about the philosophy of prediction. Just as apples were falling from trees millions of years before Newton figured out the math, though, whether prediction is appropriate, to my mind, depends not on whether it can be justified in abstract terms, but on whether the predictions work. That’s why I’ve been careful to assess my predictions each year at year’s end, to admit where I was wrong and point out where I was right.

    Mots, China’s pretty clearly the next global hegemon, and will have its century or two in the catbird’s seat before it, too, gets caught in the trap of empire, with costs increasing and benefits decreasing — the same trap that has us caught just now, and had Britain caught a century ago. Since I’m an American and write for an audience that’s about 2/3 from the US, yes, I do tend to focus my predictions on how things are going for the US.

    John B, watching the US mainstream media since 2016 has been quite the exercise in absurdity! It’ll be interesting to see what happens if, as I suspect, Trump wins reelection in 2020.

    Shane, by all means get out there and agitate for your cause. I don’t recommend trying to talk politicians, or most anyone else, into being pro-depression, though!

    Sam, boring years actually make great history. When you’ve got a couple of centuries of distance from a time period, the sheer strangeness of the events in it make up for the lack of importance those events may have. There’s a great historical work titled 1587: A Year of No Significance by Ray Huang; it’s the chronicle of an utterly ordinary year in the decline of the Ming dynasty in China, and it’s utterly riveting, because in the play of events in that insignificant year, you can see the entire sweep of early modern Chinese history playing out in miniature.

    Pogonip, I’ve got a great idea — all my fans who are feeling deprived can run out and buy more of my books to tide them over. 😉 As for Magic Monday, I’m expecting to keep it running — it takes a lot less time to field questions than it does to write original essays.

    Clay, oh my. I watched that same process unfold in 2008. Put on a helmet when you go downtown or you may get clonked by falling prices…

    Linnea and Tom, thank you!

    Shane, I don’t recommend it. You’ll just encourage more people to roll their eyes and walk away. Remember that honey catches more flies than vinegar!

    Bird, I ain’t arguing — and there’s a fierce irony in watching so many liberals, who claim to be against war and for peace, losing it completely when Trump ordered the troops home from Syria.

    Joy Marie, thank you!

    Dylan, yes, we’ll pick up the Cos. Doc.in February; January might be a good time to read back over the material we’ve covered so far. As for manufacturing jobs, you might start by reading this and this.

    Rita, many thanks for the data point! I hear this sort of thing pretty consistently any time I get to hear from someone who’s actually seeing the aftermath of a disaster.

    Michelle, thank you.

    Kris, thank you also! The Blood of the Earth is one of my two favorites among my peak oil books I’m glad you enjoy it.

  27. Violet, that’s the thing about black swans — nobody sees them coming. Any one of your predictions might have happened, and I don’t think anybody would have been completely stunned if any of them did. Care to try again?

    Katsmama, thank you.

    Rita, oh, granted. For that matter, nobody gave a rat’s handbag about the number of children who died while crossing into the US as illegal immigrants under Obama, Bush II, or Clinton — but now that it’s Trump, it’s as though he personally choked them in the Oval Office while cackling with glee.

  28. Scrying between the lines it seems as though JMG predications this year are saying ‘steady as she goes’. More of the same as KapitanLeutnant Trump has stopped the ship, closed the watertight doors and is effecting temporary emergency repairs in order to get the good ship ‘WesternWorld’ moving again towards the Dry Ice Bergs once these are done, albeit at reduced speed.
    Meanwhile, the band still plays, the bar is still serving drinks and the steerage passengers are locked securely below decks, for now. (Except the ones that have begun to ponder the metaphyscal meaning of their fluoro reflector vests !)

    Bon Voyage 2019, fellow Branch Druidians

  29. OMG,
    this is going to be hideous! The last time you went on sabbatical was the presidential election, when I still considered myself “progressive” and I tried to go to a Trump rally, and found out that they were humans just like me. Enjoy your time off. I will let everyone know how the “consent to secede” resolution turns out!

  30. Every year it’s the same damned thing – nothing ever happens. Somehow though, if you look back 10 years it’s quite amazing how unrecognizable that world is. Something very strange seems to be going on here!

  31. @JMG: “Both sides act as though the only acceptable outcome is that they get everything they want and the other side gets nothing, and try to wrap the realities of naked self-interest in the unconvincing garb of moral posturing.”

    I’d find myself much more inclined to compromise with poor rural working-class conservative populists if they were simply concerned with their naked self-interest, because their ‘moral posturing’ is the very thing that makes me view their goals as being wholly incompatible with my own. If the issue was simply economic – if it was simply a matter of ensuring that immigration and free trade didn’t completely destroy their prospects for having a decent life – then sure, I’d be willing to pay a little bit more for strawberries to make sure that rural Americans were earning a fair wage. But when they base their opposition to immigration in nationalistic, xenophobic, and sometimes outright racist beliefs (e.g. talking about how Latinos and Africans and Muslims are “culturally incompatible” with Western ideals, how we shouldn’t allow Hondurans into the country because the average IQ in their country is supposedly 85, how their mere presence of “undesirable” nationalities is going to turn the U.S. into a “third world shithole”), that makes it very hard to sympathize with them. And when I hear people talking about how we should “kill all the invaders at the border” and gleefully cheering on anti-immigrant violence, and laughing at the fact that illegals are being kept in conditions of squalor as they await deportation, why should I care about their economic troubles? If they’re not willing to extend any sympathy to their outgroup, why should I extend any sympathy to them?

    And it’s not like immigration and trade are the only issues here. It’s easy enough to view those as purely economic issues, despite the cultural and racial baggage associated with them. But how do you fit opposition for gay marriage into an economic framework, or hostility toward transgender people, or opposition to sexual freedom and birth control and abortion? How do you explain the disdain for urban African-American and Latino-American culture? For the most part, inner city blacks and Hispanics are citizens, and their cultures have a long history within this country. It’s not just a matter of economics, it’s not even just about immigrants vs. natives, it’s about preserving a specific vision of traditional American culture that excludes LGBT people, inner city minorities, secular cosmopolitans, and so forth. I don’t think they’re white supremacists (a lot of them supported Ben Carson, after all), but I do think they’re cultural supremacists and that their particular culture excludes a good portion of the American populace. The social and cultural policies they support have already caused meaningful harm to people like me, and not for the sake of any economic benefit to them. If they actually got everything they wanted – which they seem to be perilously close to doing – it would be vastly worse for us.

    Culture War is a racket, but it’s the only game in town. Economics and foreign policy may matter a lot more in a utilitarian sense, but we don’t all have the luxury of ignoring the social and cultural issues going on around us.

  32. John–

    Re visions of vigor and rising empires

    Exactly. I had a difficult time putting what I sensed into words and my comment was already overly long, but yes, I had a vision of a string of such youthful powers stretching back into time and it occurred me that this is what 19th century Americans must have felt.

    Of course, the whole thing is a trap and the only way to avoid the trap is to not pursue empire to begin with, but clever monkeys are not the same as wise monkeys…

  33. A break? But January 2019 is shaping up to be the most consequential month since at least, well, December 2018. 😉

    Enjoy your break! Thank you (and the commenters) for the education, entertainment, and thought provoking posts throughout 2018.

    Happy New Year to all!

  34. @ Shane W

    “I’m making a New Year’s resolution to take the fist out of the velvet glove, and to do away w/the niceties…”

    I have to admit when I first read that I thought: “There’s a velvet glove on?” It all makes more sense now.

  35. Archdruid,

    Well have a good break. I had one black swan prediction about bottlenecks caused by some random mineral shortage. Total fail on my part. I’m going to think about the coming year and I’ll toss out a few predictions. It should be an interesting year at any rate.

  36. Pogonip, heh heh heh…

    Sam, by all means do so — it’s a great read.

    Jormungandr, pretty much, yeah.

    Shane, the last time I took a break was in the summer of 2017, when I was in the process of switching from the old blog to this one, and also moving from western Maryland to Rhode Island. IIRC you had your encounter with the unhorrible Trumpistas rather before then!

    Twilight, yep — it’s called the mismatch between the human attention span and the pace of historical change.

    Ashara, funny. Trust me, there are plenty of people on the Right who are just as incensed about the nasty attitudes of the Left as you are about the equivalent on the Right, and their arguments are just as one-sided, and just as thoroughly based on cherrypicking the worst examples and generalizing from them, as yours are. That’s why I predicted that the chasm across the middle of US politics is going to remain stuck in place — until both sides (yes, including yours) gets over the habit of moral posturing, and stops doing everything possible to paint the other side as evilly evil evilness with a double scoop of evilness on the side, we’re not going to see any kind of political sanity return to this country.

    David, I sometimes wonder if that’s like saying that children should avoid adolescence…

    Ryan, hah! Funny. Many thanks.

    Varun, as I noted in response to Violet, that’s the thing about black swans — they really are impossible to predict! I’ll look forward to your 2019 prophecies.

  37. Here’s my Black Swan prediction: Something will happen to one of the Female Supreme Court members to cause her to retire (that is, if she doesn’t die). You can guess how reactions go.

    The Black Swan part? I’m NOT talking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Doesn’t mean RBG won’t retire or die, but she’s not whom I’m picking to have someone happen to.

  38. Greetings all!

    Enjoy your break JMG. Hope you come back refreshed!

    Although you make mainly US based predictions, would you care to make a few tantalising predictions about the EU? Will Brexit incite a few more to look elsewhere for instance?

  39. One more comment,
    Although China is poised to become the next hegemon, it seems that, unlike preceding empires (UK and US empires), China is facing and will have to face severe planetary environmental conditions (land degradation, fisheries collapse and pollution world wide, climate change) and the consequences of fossil fuel depletion over the long term.

    Could these conditions be severe enough that its rise to hegemony be significantly affected or delayed?

    Not exactly related to this week’s post, but I am curious…

  40. Just to add a few more comments,
    I was wondering, in fact, about the impacts of energy and resource depletion and large scale pollution on the empire building process. Unless I am mistaken, it could well be the first time in recorded history that a potential hegemon is facing planetary resource and energy depletion. Could that derail the empire building process to such an extent that the world will know no future global hegemon, but a collection of smaller scale/ regional hegemons, of which China could be one?

  41. @JMG: Where does that leave us then? The most obvious outcome seems to be civil war, or at least a self-perpetuating feedback loop of increasing civil unrest and social tension and political gridlock. One solution would be to simply have a strong leader or ruling council *force* everyone to compromise. Sounds nice in theory, but in practice, benevolent dictators and oligarchs never stay benevolent for long. Another solution is to go the opposite route, say “**** it” to the entire idea of the U.S. being a unified country, and split off into anywhere between 2 and 200 micro-nations. Once again, nice in theory, but when you look at places like Somalia and Pakistan and Bangladesh and the Gulf states and the Balkan states, it seems that secessionism doesn’t usually end well either. And then, of course, there’s always the possibility that the Right wins the current political war and conservatives get everything they want forever, or the possibility that the Left wins the current political war and liberals get everything they want forever. (Well, forever in the sense of “as long as the U.S. continues to exist as a nation,” which IMO will probably be for another few centuries at the very least.)

    I find those last two options neither likely nor desirable, though the first one is an absolute existential horror in a way that the second one isn’t; surely living in The Handmaid’s Tale would be worse for the vast majority of Americans than whatever a culturally liberal dystopia looks like. (The typical far-left dystopia is authoritarian communism, but that particular horse has been dead for so long that it’s rotted away to bones, even if a few crackpots insist on dredging up its skeletal remains from time to time.) At any rate, the Right is currently winning hard, and as you noted in your post, even the Democrat victory in the House doesn’t amount to much. Republicans control all three branches of government, will still control two and a half branches in 2019, and are virtually guaranteed to keep the White House for 6 more years and to retain control of the Judiciary for decades to come. That alone is more reason to fear them than the other side.

    It seems we’re at an impasse then, and what’s more, simply pointing out that fact is itself an action that reinforces that impasse. “Both sides are at fault” has become an argument that’s been co-opted by both sides to reinforce their own agendas.

  42. Thank you for the last year and a half of constant thought provoking posts – you deserve the rest and I hope it is a good one. Always good to see people pacing themselves to some degree.

    I am also finally glad to see someone make a reasonable prediction for the markets. Not Star Trek economy (“it goes to the stars!”) or Great depression 2 (“I haven’t had shoes for a year!”). I personally am not making any major short term predictions on the markets as they can still go in any direction but they will be interesting to look at from a distance.

  43. “Unfortunately, we don’t happen to have a functioning democracy right now. Both sides act as though the only acceptable outcome is that they get everything they want and the other side gets nothing, and try to wrap the realities of naked self-interest in the unconvincing garb of moral posturing.”

    And its ridiculous that they don’t, or fail to consider that to be an option a bit more openly, because they just agreed upon, get this, a criminal justice reform bill just the other day. And it wasn’t even one that the Democrats came up with.

  44. Hello JMG –
    Thank you for your predictions, and your blogging work, and for actively hosting an interesting and varied commentiat. Enjoy the break!

    In the spirit of making predictions based on current trends getting “currenter” and “trendier” I would like to offer mine from the point of view of the clinic.

    Firstly, I do believe that, one way or another, borders and boundaries (and how to determine the difference between me/not me) will be seen, even from a long distance away in history, as central to the systems of meaning of our time. We can see that in the political arena, the word “border” has acquired a vastly heightened emotional tone, and determining how significant a border should be has acquired a new urgency. (Of course, the gulf you mention above leaves this urgency extremely difficult to address in a useful discourse aimed at negotiation and reconciliation of differing interests).

    What I want to tell you is that I can see the same meanings that we confront each other with in politics, the same questions that we feel called to resolve, are at play within the health of individuals in my clinic (a small data sample, but, I think, not atypical). What is commonly known as “autoimmunity” is rapidly becoming the signal “ill” of our age, and its parameters involve various disruptions of the immune system, particularly in respect of its ability to detect differences between “me” proteins and “not me” proteins. There is still much that is poorly understood about this phenomenon, and one point of active debate is whether an immune system attacks “me” proteins simply because it has malfunctioned (in which case the correct approach is to suppress immunity – or in political terms, go “borderless”), or whether immune attacks on “me” proteins occur because a “not me” protein or other foreign toxin – eg a heavy metal – is deliberately hiding among the “me” proteins, which suffer from “friendly fire” as unintended casualties, while the immune system is, quite correctly, attacking an unauthorised intruder. (In this case, the correct approach is to strengthen the immune system’s capacity to detect and root out intruders, while finding ways to better protect “me” proteins, too – or in political terms, implement border controls and protective tarriffs, say).

    In any case, I predict that, so long as a symbolic pre-occupation with borders and boundaries remains central to our politics, culture and society, some variety of autoimmunity will remain one of the most common ills of body that individuals in that polity and society will continue to suffer. (Just to point out that autoimmunity – whether related to actual pathogenic or toxic intrusion, or not, depending on POV – may be at work in such disparate, but increasingly common ills as diabetes, asthma, food intolerances, depression, chronic pain syndromes, some cancers, allergies, allergic skin disorders, and many others). One thing that is notable about auto-immune disorders is that they are not seen as arising from contagion (ie from outside), but from a battle between (often unknown or difficult to determine) potential allies unaccountably turned to combatants within.

    In respect of this phenomenon, I had a revelation in my garden yesterday, as I fed my compost heap. As it happens, I am not at all pernickety about what I feed it, because I have long ago developed a basic sense of trust in the ability of a well-formed and diverse community of micro-critters to detoxify most things that I can feed it. My revelation was simply this, that in my own eating habit (by means of which the “me” communes with the “not me” world around me) that, instead of mistrust and suspicion of what I eat, I can choose to have the same faith as I have in the feeding of the compost heap. Faith that in eating whatever the world brings me, I am communing with its many flavours, and its many experiences. That somewhere in my communing with the world through eating, will lie my death, but that before that there will be much of experience, and much learning, and that I need fear none of the above, but simply engage, commune, learn and ultimately die, in a spirit of faith.

    I do not know if any of this last makes sense (and I certainly do not propose to make of it a recommendation to anyone else), but it made me feel a bit happier, and more “in tune” with my garden, its compost, its soil, its growing beings and its moving beings. (Among others, a rare red squirrel I spotted last week for the first time ever!).

  45. John–

    Re humanity and adolescence

    Sigh. In the broader view, I suppose that is correct. It would be less painful though!

  46. Kris – I suppose it’s time for me to mention (again) that I have a personal (spiritual?) practice of making donations through the tip jar at every Solstice. $26, twice a year, is a frequency that I think is often enough that I remember to do it, and not so often as to bleed off transaction costs. A dollar a week is, I hope, a modest example that many other readers here could follow. (And, unlike a book sale, it ALL goes to The Author.)

  47. Re the political divide

    While I very well could be proven wrong, I don’t see the regional differences of the present political divide being bridged in any meaningful way. I’m still of the opinion that the working together we’ve managed to this point was due to our commonality as members of a global imperial power. With that gone, there’s nothing to hold the marriage together anymore. I think the best way to hold together what *can* be held together is to allow those who no longer wish to be members of this association of people to leave. These all-or-nothing battles for centralized control whereby one group or the other attempts to force its worldview on everyone else are foolish and will only make things worse as our national power declines further. We either learn to respect our differences and live together even while disagreeing, or else we don’t live together: those are our choices. And where appropriate, peaceful separation is far more desirable than a nasty divorce.

  48. JMG, thanks for another year of thought provoking blog posts.

    As I get older and more informed about social and economic problems, I get more persuaded that the situations are complex and multi-layered. I don’t know the right answer, and get increasingly suspicious of people who say they do. This leaves me in a poor position to debate with anyone, or in fact make any useful long term decisions myself. I keep thinking more information will help…so far, not.

    A common far left/far right thought feature seems to be “If we can get rid of X group of people, everything will be fine!” X can be almost any group. The truth of the matter is that X won’t ever go away, and can’t be imprisoned/shot/deported/brought to Jesus/whatever. Attempts to find and remove a scapegoat group for social problems will waste a lot of time, money, and energy. It won’t solve whatever the problem is. A functioning society will allow everyone to exist and contribute. (I’m typing this, and wondering if this is too optimistic.)

    Wishes for the New Year to bring clarity to everyone’s vision, and success to everyone’s gardening plans!

  49. Ashara – One of the most useful questions to ask one’s self is “how do I know?”

    If your perception of “immigration skeptics” is based on their blog posts, then you’ll have to consider that some of them may be Russian influence agents, and others just loud-mouthed idiots who may be lack-of-virtue signaling to other loud-mouthed idiots.

    If your perception of immigration skeptics is based on the news media, you’ll have to consider whether describing the loud-mouthed fringe makes for better ratings than the moderate middle (which it probably does, whether the medium is left or right-leaning), and whether attempts to discourage immigration skeptics are in the financial interest of someone who can help steer the media portrayal.

    If we’re serious about ecology and resource depletion, we should be trying to limit the number of people who enjoy the extravagant US lifestyle. Just because their populations have overshot the current carrying capacity of their own countries does not mean that we should absorb any of the excess.

    What do Irish, Mormon, Jewish, Central-American, and African immigrant families have in common (in the popular imagination, at least)? Large numbers of children, and bias against their immigration. From a perspective as abstract as thermodynamics, the large families of the “Other” are reason enough to oppose them. (“How do I know?” That’s a good question… one which I will contemplate for more time than I have right now. I think it’s based on study of thermodynamics and non-human population dynamics, seasoned with over 5 decades of life experience.)

  50. “The world doesn’t change as fast as we like to think it does, and we don’t actually know which way it’s going.”

    Thank you. That is very true. I happen to think we have quite a long while to go here, and there is an awful lot of good yet to come, but only time will tell on that.

    But I don’t agree about the futility of college. As it turns out, I wound up in a career that did not really require a degree, yet I don’t regret my education for a moment. My daughter is currently a freshman, and I’m very pleased. She will have four great years, she’ll learn an awful lot and make lifelong friends. And maybe it will lead to a career. In any case, it will be time and, as far as I’m concerned, money well spent. It’s my money, so I’m okay with it.

    Of course, college is not for everybody, nor should it be. But there is still enormous value in it.

  51. I’m proud to inform you that I’m now the owner of a copy of The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth. I’m planning on reading it my next day off work. It won’t get me through the next month but I’m hoping I can convince my local library to order some more of your books.

    Also, we live in a small town whose economic wealth comes from a really expensive liberal arts college. Sounds like the future of this town may be comparable to a rust belt town when the factory closed?

  52. Just been out cycling to the shops, and as per usual a bit more came through on the meditation re the symbolic connection between the health of the nation and the health of the individual. It struck me that I had left out a very important part of the story of autoimmunity, and that is the role played by our microbiota, which is finally coming into standard medicine’s view, after a century of treating microbes as purely pathogenic. If you like, what has recently been recognised is that a healthy microbial ecology performs what might be called a druidical act – that is to say, it turns the binary of “me” vs “not me” into a ternary, by training our immune systems to further recognise the difference between “friendly not-me’s” and “unfriendly not-me’s” and to maintain conditions that favour the “friendly not-me’s” while keeping the “unfriendly not-me’s” corralled in such a way that they cannot cause harm. And of course, medically, we have driven a coach and horses through this ecological system and its special skillsets with technologies such as antibiotics and pesticides (which act against the microbiota of soils and other non-human hosts), leaving it in profound disarray just now.

    It may be that the druidical number three, which might break both the political and the immunological binary of “me” vs “not me” will come from the rich experience of making diverse friends among all the potential “not me’s” that may come from a more reflective and “topoi-ical” approach to discourse, as well as a cultivation of a diverse and healthy microbioecology.

  53. JMG, IDK if it was last year or the year before’s prediction, but what do you make of what’s going on in Saudi Arabia? Are we still going to see the fall of the House of Saud?

  54. FWIW, JMG, i’d be more than willing to live in separate countries from Ashara, which is why I’m moving forward w/my “consent to secede” resolution…

  55. Well, clearly, Ashara hasn’t spent any amount of time in red America. Otherwise, she would see how complacent most evangelicals have become, how quickly evangelical churches are emptying, that Kim Davis is no longer County Clerk in Rowan Co., and that Fairness Ordinances (LGBT equal rights) are spreading to ever smaller communities. Meanwhile, after threatening the LGBT community about what would happen if the GOP took over state government, zero, count ’em, zero, anti-LGBT bills have passed the legislature and have been signed into law since the GOP took over all three branches of state government. (Indeed, the GOP Fairness coalition is growing, and includes one member of leadership.) Of course, since she’s not here, she wouldn’t see the day to day realities of race relations among the working class, either.

  56. JMG – IIRC, my “black swan” speculation for 2018 was that Elon Musk would be incapacitated or removed from leadership, and that this would prompt a widespread de-valuation of the faith-based technology industry. While we haven’t yet seen the extreme event I suggested, he was fined $20 million, and forced to step down as Chairman of Tesla (for at least three years) at the end of September. Since early October, Apple has lost about 30%, Amazon is down about 27%, and Netflix about 34%. The S&P 500 also hit its high in early October, and has since slipped about 16%.

  57. @David,
    IDK, that it’s fair to say the whole thing is a trap. The one before us and the one after us both have histories of graciously backing down when the time came. Britain handed off to us in stair-step fashion, and China has backed away from empire in the past.

  58. Honestly, I get so tired of people on the left reacting to ghosts of -isms past. Honestly, if Lopez Obrador can have a good working relationship w/our president, I don’t see what the fuss is about…

  59. You’re right, JMG, I didn’t really think of that as a sabbatical b/c you were switching blogs, but I DO remember you going on sabbatical during the primary season as well.

  60. Oh, I totally forgot: I have to lobby the legislature for a BBA Con Con: a gridlocked Con Con a la Twilight’s Last Gleaming will grease the wheels towards dissolution/secession…

  61. Happy New Years John and everyone here. Enjoy the break. I look forward to reading the refreshed blog posts in February.

  62. Godozo,
    OMG, we’ll have one heck of a tantrum if a left-wing Court justice dies or gets incapacitated on Trump’s watch. That will make Kavanaugh look like small potatoes. Strenuous aerobic exercise, indeed. On the up side, it makes Calexit all the more likely.

  63. I’m more than willing to let Ashara take the West Coast (including Nevada and possibly Colo.) and the BosWash corridor (actually, everything from Baltimore to the Maine/New Brunswick border) out of the Union so she can have the kind of country she would like to live in.

  64. Aron, enjoyed your music video. Thought I recognized the landscape as that around Vegas as well as the street scenes and the pool. Is that where you are based? I have family there.

  65. Not so much prophecies, but rather wishes for 2019:

    –the troops are brought home from abroad and all overseas bases closed
    –our meddling in the affairs of other nations ceases
    –our military is resized for the limited task of defending the territorial integrity of the nation
    –we walk away from trade relationships detrimental to our national interests
    –our economy becomes a vehicle for the betterment of our own citizenry
    –we decide to live responsibly and within the sustainable means of our own national resources
    –we learn to mind our own business and tend to our own affairs
    –we rediscover the practice of respectful and reasoned discourse
    –we learn to disagree in a civil manner
    — we realize that living in a culturally heterogeneous society requires us to accept the right of others whose views are different from our own to live in a manner of which we may not approve

    One can dream!

  66. Speaking of secession, I’m noticing that local progressives are getting ever more brittle and angry. Is this b/c they realize that their dreams of turning the area into Portland w/bourbon and horses will never materialize?

  67. Nil Gates once said about technology, “Everyone overestimates what can be done in the short term, and underestimates what can be done in the long term.” I think all prediction is like that; in the short term, nothing much changes, but in the long term it changes a lot and inexorably.

  68. I’ve been carefully tracking the YDS Index since the Crash of 2000, when it lost nearly 93% of its value overnight following its all-time high of 28. Since then there’s been a gradual recovery. In the coming year I expect the YDS Index to increase again, of course nowhere near the exuberant levels we saw in the late 1980s and 1990’s, but still setting a new high for the post-crash era. However, around the end of the coming year, there’s a strong likelihood of another setback in the recovery, much like the correction of 2010, though with a somewhat higher floor.

    I used to use the YDS Index to show how easy it is to make cryptic authoritative-sounding “economic” predictions out of nothing. YDS stands for “Year Digit Sum.” For instance, 2019’s is 2+0+1+9 = 12, while 2020’s is 2+0+2+0 = 4 (a 67% drop-off!).

    But if you invert it or reverse it in time, the YDS becomes a good abstract model for fractal decline. (Its long-term pattern is indeed fractal.) It’s an even better model in binary. The digit sum of a binary countdown declines by 1 on alternate counts, stays the same on half the remaining counts, increases by 1 on half the remaining counts, increases by 2 on half the remaining counts, and so forth. So you have frequent small decrements interrupted by improvements of varying magnitudes with the biggest improvements being the least frequent. (Of course, the digit sum of a binary count up behaves the same way but in reverse.)

    In the unreversed binary YDS (b2YDS), 2019 (like all odd numbered years) will be an incremental increase year, 11111100010 to 11111100011. But we’re headed for a historic b2YDS crash in 2048.

    Have a Happy New Year and an enjoyable January break!

  69. Well, since it seems to be prediction time:

    1. grass roots networks will continue to grow. They’ll get a bit less political and more pragmatic.

    2. Most pundits, the chattering class and the MSM will completely miss this because they’ll keep looking for what isn’t there: highly visible leaders to whom everyone kowtows.

    3. At least one, possibly two and maybe three resource problems will gain in significance to where they will have to be dealt with in 2020. At least one of them will require global cooperation to be successfully dealt with.

  70. JMG,

    A canny marketing strategy indeed! Yes, I need to buy another of your books. 😁

    Wishing you and your good lady a relaxing January and a happy 2019!

    OtterGirl

  71. At least one of those predictions… doesn’t even need to wait the new year. A major hurricane made landfall in our area a couple of months ago. We laugh at people who claim this is “climate change”. It’s the Gulf Coast. It happens. Not that climate change isn’t a thing. It’s just there are a bunch of ignorant yanks who moved here, and saw the previous decade of record-low tropical activity, and took it for normal. Those of us who grew up here and are more than thirty years old, know better. We’ve returned to the normal pattern. But with more development in the way.

    We’re far enough inland we took no damage. But the county seat and several of the smaller surrounding towns were ravaged. One month out, 80% of businesses in our county were still closed. 25% of the houses in town have been declared uninhabitable. We’re well into winter (which isn’t catastrophic like up north, but we’re not Tampa: it does freeze here) and have thousands of people living in RVs, campers, and tarped houses where all the (wet) insulation has been ripped out (and in tents, in the outlying areas). Our air force base (which is a large part of the local economy) was leveled. There are a lot of optimistic promises about bringing it back, but the damage is in the billions out there, and it’s anyone’s guess what size the “new” base will be. It’s never been huge. The friendly regional-chain grocery now has armed guards.

    There is a fascinating, and heated, debate here about whether the storm was a Category 4 or a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The estimated wind speed at landfall was 155mph: 2mph shy of a 5. That distinction is probably too fine even for the scientists to suss out. The instruments broke at 129mph. anemometers are not very robust– historically, all major storm wind speeds have been estimated based on damage, or seriously under-estimated based on when the equipment broke. Local government and residents are pushing for a 5 designation, because it affects insurance payouts and FEMA funds. Some of the local townships are looking at bankruptcy and possible dissolution from debris removal costs alone– they want a 5 designation no matter what the actual numbers may have been. There are some obvious vested interests who would prefer it remain a 4, no matter what the NOAA scientists rule on it. Final report is supposed to be out February-ish. We may never get to know what the science says– too much money riding on it.

    The local school system has lost 3000 students, and has commenced layoffs. An additional 3800 students are now technically homeless– no permanent structure to live in (RV, tent, crashing with relatives, etc)– up from just 800 at the beginning of the school year. The larger of two local hospitals plans to re-open at 1/4 its former capacity, sometime next year, and has laid off 800 people. A lot of smaller businesses are shuttered permanently, and many are still struggling to repair facilities. There are no official numbers, but the population here has shrunk noticeably. The whole strata of people who worked, rented, and basically lived paycheck to paycheck: they are gone. They can’t afford to wait around for their jobs to come back, or for more rental housing to become available (the housing shortage right now is intense– advertised rents on even the tiniest houses have doubled, and the local “for sale” listings are flooded with pleas for affordable housing). Many doctors have relocated. Getting a medical appointment anywhere, for any reason, has become a huge hassle. Even the ones who haven’t moved away… many have had to gut their offices and rebuild from the studs. They are meanwhile sharing space with other docs in the more-intact offices.

    Electricity is mostly restored. Municipal water is mostly back, but with occasional boil-water notices. Other utilities (phone, internet) are still patchy. The fleets of out-of-town trucks have taken a toll on the roads. We have potholes where I have never seen them before. God knows how any of that will be paid for, given our reduced tax base.

    There’s a lot of blowhard talk about recovery. “850Strong!” “We’ll be back, and better than ever!” etc. I don’t see it happening. I expect we’ll be a smaller, poorer town for a long time.

  72. Alright; I’m game! Rather than putting on a fantasist’s hat, I’ll don a deadpan satirist’s cap:

    * A member of the staff of Catland, the occult bookstore in Brooklyn, emerges as a major political contender for the 2020 elections.

    * In an act of almost unprecedented civility, the United States donates to China many important and strategic Naval bases.

    * The ongoing practice of the ritual human sacrifice of the homeless in southern California is finally publicly denounced and just as quickly forgotten in the news cycle.

    * Alex Jones gets woke, becoming the darling and mouthpiece of the tankie social justice left.

    * A religious craze based on Archie comics sweeps the nation.

    * Scientists finally learn how to decode the language of Dolphins and get an earful.

    Wow — that was hard! I had to delete more entries than are here on the final list for being too obvious and even now these all seem like either bad scifi or bad jokes. But, then again so does reality all too frequently. I look forward to seeing next year if there are any hits.

  73. JMG,

    Enjoy your break and Happy New Year.

    I just finished reading the 10 volume Archdruid Report. Great read, but have a question. In one post you mentioned anyone with a household income of >$38,000, was in the top 1% on a world basis. Not sure how you got that number, since the median household income is in the $50,000s and the US makes up ~5% of world population. The numbers don’r work. I’m guessing it would take about $100,000 to be in the top 1% worldwide. Comments?

    Thanks,

    Bob

  74. Bad news from Canada.
    2019 will be a rough for the Dominion. The three legs of the stool that will disrupt the country is, geography, energy and finance. With ample energy and finance, the federal government could compensate for geography, and pay out the french separatist.
    Now its not energy per-se that is lacking, its the COST of extracting that energy that has gone through the roof whether shale oil or tar sands
    The central geographical fact is that Alberta, our main oil producing province, is landlocked. And requires an ocean going port.
    First, it was the Keystone XL kerfuffle with the Obama Administration, a no go.
    Second, it was the energy east pipeline debacle, a project to run an oil pipeline through Quebec, talk about walking through a landmine. So some genius cooked up the absolutely brilliant idea of transporting oil by rail, as it doesn’t require an ecological assessment. A train that promptjy blew-up in downtown Lake Megantic.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-M%C3%A9gantic_rail_disaster
    In reaction, Quebecers elected an nationalist administration in 2018…
    third, Aberta demanded a pipeline though British-Columbia to Kitimat port, the northern gateway access project, the Indians rebelled and the provincial administration threatened to sabotage the pipeline…
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/more-sabotage-feared-after-2nd-pipeline-bombed-in-northern-b-c-1.714021
    this is ten years ago but you get the drift…
    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/np-view-b-c-s-anti-oil-sabotage-must-be-stopped-were-waiting-mr-prime-minister
    this one is from the beginning of this year.
    And Alberta wants to separate…
    https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/why-alberta-separatism-is-the-dumbest-political-movement-in-canada-today
    It went to this to that in less then 6 months:
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/separatism-may-be-on-the-rise-in-alberta-after-trans-mountain-decision-kenney-1.4081573
    And then:
    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-wednesday-edition-1.4952400/albexit-why-this-economist-thinks-alberta-could-separate-from-canada-1.4952403
    Notice it went to: first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then its not a joke in no time flat.
    I could go on, but a country that was rock stable ten years ago is going south fast.
    2018 the year of the canadian facepalm, i am not even about Justin Trudeau here…
    2018 the year that nothing happened in Canada
    Sigh…
    Denis
    p.s. i read the 1587 book

  75. My dear Mr Greer, firstly, a wish for a happy new year for you and yours. My folks had some experience in the 1930s and 40s with historical change when they lived in Europe, and while I agree that it usually doesn’t happen in flashes, sometimes the speed and immensity of events can be overwhelming. At least, that’s my interpretation of their accounts. What I learned from talking to them is the constant anxiety they felt of watching events unfold in new and horrible directions, not a lot of which were foreseen, at least not by many.

    And if you were an optimist and happened to think that things would get better or that they couldn’t get worse, well, things kept getting worse, by orders of magnitude. And if you breathed a sigh of relief at the cessation of hostilities in 1945, again, I suppose that no longer fearing death by high velocity projectiles would have been an improvement, but then there was suffering and death by starvation to contend with. We’ve forgotten but famine stalked Europe for years afterward.

    A lot of people put faith in Mr Chamberlain and his calm assurance and level-headedness and experience. Too bad about that. I think Churchill had it right, at the start of his reign, Hitler was so weak that he could have been stopped by a memorandum. You can point to wishful thinking, that Mr Hitler and his minions would prove to be rational and reasonable.

    Or you can say it was a failure of nerve, a failure to act. But I think it also illustrates what you said; people can’t see through the fog of events in real time, and while everything looks obvious in retrospect, it’s not so when you’re living it.

    And that goes for us. Take the election of Trump. You made the right call on this. But it looked improbable to most people, especially those in the closed bubbles of Washington and Manhattan. But in retrospect it shouldn’t have, Trump’s message should have been listened to, the Deplorables should have been credited with legitimate needs and grievances instead of being haughtily dismissed as blind racists and hopeless and useless cretins. If the destitution of the middle of America had been seen for what it was and not minimized or discounted or ignored by the high and mighty, maybe Trump would be in opulent retirement instead of the Oval Office.

  76. Well, I guess it’s a good thing I just got a copy of Monsters for Solstice! That and catching up with Cos Doc is plenty to tide me over during your well-deserved break. Rest well.

    I was just having this discussion about the declining value of college and the desperate need for a new wave of apprenticeship programs with extended (blue-leaning) family over the Christmas holiday. Surprisingly well received.

    Quick data point: my librarian wife told me that lots of job-seekers showing up at the library to use the computers are no longer coming back week after week to apply for something else. Must be some jobs out there…

    Love these annual prediction posts and recaps, and already looking forward to your return.

    PS – just fyi, my products are way better than my poetry! Hope you enjoy them. 😉

  77. Ashara,
    I think I’ll bite. Basically, what you’re saying is that you will not have sympathy for the working class unless and until they embrace your entire worldview. It’s an odd thing, this supposed love of diversity. It seems very selective. On one hand, all of them will really be erased under the liberal treatment, and on the other, my opinion is that all that large list of ‘others’ that your view wants to protect are only loved in the abstract because it isn’t close up and real to you. But the actual working class of America get all the disdain. That working class shares many, many views with the groups you want to include without limit. It is actually modern, liberal Americans and Europeans who are world outliers.
    Some of the items you mention are indeed racist or xenophobic, but those are the extremes. I frankly would like to know how you think Muslim culture, if they were here in large enough numbers, could possibly be culturally compatible with western ones. You speak of sexual freedom! In those countries, families are allowed to kill their daughters for suspicion of sexual impropriety. Some European countries are struggling with whether to legalize female genital mutilation. Your position seems to be that absolutely every culture, everywhere, no matter what they do must be compatible and will not cause problems, because, well, just because. Do you realize that this lack of basic practicality makes the other side regard yours as lacking in mental capacity?
    How many millions of people from completely different and poverty stricken cultures do you think we can absorb without losing our own standard of living? How far will taxes go to educate, give medical care and so forth without failing to provide for our own poor, which so far as I know, we have not yet done?
    You speak of urban black culture. What it is, for the most part, is a destroyed people. I’d like to see them recover. You might think, from what I say, that I don’t love these people. But I do. As a connoisseur of human sweetness, I find Islamic peoples lovely. I admire Mexican and South American cultures very, very much. Yet I think we need to control our borders. As for blacks, I observe them most keenly around the world. I see the remnants of African culture in American blacks. I see the damage that has been done because I see the huge emotional difference between, say, Africans and American blacks. Yet I note that the ex-slave blacks from the islands are much closer to Africans and their culture is intact. I did ask one such about this recently, and he said that it wasn’t the slavery that was so hard to recover from, the the sense in America of being unwanted. On the islands, they didn’t have that.
    I’d like to assure you that if you lived together and had skin in the game with the various cultures you mention, you’d have a very hard time with their attitudes, because they don’t match yours. So I’d like to start working with what we already have and not over extend ourselves. Different cultures and ethnicities always have a hard time feeling truly comfortable with one another. We have to face that squarely or we’re in fantasyland.

    What meaningful harm has been done to you?

  78. Aron Blue,
    I think driving a car is a tough one in our ill-designed social geography. I certainly do more of it than I should. Otherwise, we do what we can where we can, right? And I have a feeling you live pretty small.

    Checking out your video now…

    Cheers!

  79. @ Ashara (if I may)

    Re 2 to 200 micronations and civil war

    The current US would, in my view, readily dissolve into between 5 and 9 culturally-coherent nation-states, possibly including: an independent Texas, an independent California, a revived Kingdom of Hawai’i (overthrown, as I recall, by US corporate interests), a New England nation, a mid-Atlantic and/or Midwestern nation (long live the Lakeland Republic!), a mountain/plains nation or two (so long as those areas were habitable), a Pacific Northwest nation, and a revived Dixie (I’ll need to get my grits imported here to Wisconsin). These would, I’d argue, be viable nation-states. (Well, except perhaps California, but then again, it’s California.) I’m fairly certain that eventually this is where we are going to end up when the dust settles; the route by which we get there, however, may be incredibly harsh or merely difficult, depending entirely on the path we decide to take.

    As for civil war, that is certainly a possibility and one to be avoided if we can, but I’ll also say this: civil war would ultimately be a choice and a choice made by those in power who would cling to the tatters of faded imperial glory to the bitter end, regardless of the human cost, long after that empire had *ahem* gone with the wind.

  80. JMG said “the last time I took a break was in the summer of 2017, when I was in the process of switching from the old blog to this one, and also moving from western Maryland to Rhode Island”
    I hope this break is more relaxing; I’ll drink an extra stout to help get you started 😉

  81. Enjoy the break, JMG, and come back with fresh perspectives on our wacky declining world.

    For me, the most shocking news of 2018 was the decline of the insect population. I knew that farmers’ fields were chemical deserts, but a 75% decline of insects in natural, protected areas is unprecedented. My spidey senses are tingling.

    On China, by 2050 it will be a sclerotic nation of old people like Japan is today, thanks to the one-child generation moving up the population pyramid. So if they are going to make a move towards military global domination they’ll have to do it soon. See the process animated at https://www.visualcapitalist.com/animation-comparing-china-vs-india-population-pyramids/

    Incidentally, by 2050 the four most populous nations will be (in order): India, China, Nigeria, United States. The West is slowly edging towards history’s dustbin.

  82. Dear Sylvia R, Thank you for your comment about “X group of people…”; that is one of the most sensible statements about current politics I have read in years. I would respectfully add that a healthy society allows for law abiding eccentricity.

    Dear John Roth, I second your point about grass root groups continuing to grow and becoming more pragmatic. As for your second point, not only do I agree, I think it almost a requirement for the success of grass root groups that they strive to avoid elite notice for as long as they can.

    Dear Jess, is it in any way possible that the expensive liberal arts college could in future decades reconstitute itself as a sort of superior public library and regional cultural resource? For the highly paid faculty, if it’s a choice between no job or reduced salary with maybe free housing thrown in…maybe they might not mind so much giving night classes and weekend lectures to interested hoi polloi. If it has a nice campus there is probably room for orchards, community gardens, maker spaces open to all and so on.

    Dear Shane W, about secession, I think you should be careful what you wish for. Let us consider a fantasy ego-gratifying thought experiment in which you are Foreign Minister of a revived confederacy and I (giving me far more gravitas than I deserve, but I did say this was fantasy) am Mme. Richelieu advising the President of The American Confederacy (New England + Atlantic States + Midwest.)

    The first thing I will advise Mme. President is close that southern border and keep it shut.
    The second thing is a series of decrees or laws to establish national sovereignty, which will include but will not necessarily be limited to an absolute ban on dual citizenship, immigration by invitation only with a stated and enforceable limit on how many dependents (one time only!) the invitees may bring with them, ban on foreign ownership of our real estate and productive capacity of any kind. That would mean, Mr. Foreign Minister, that your citizens would have six months to divest themselves of any property they might own in our fair country at whatever price they can get or face confiscation with no compensation whatever. Naturally, my advice will also include tariffs on all imported goods, to equal whatever our farmers and manufacturers have to spend to meet our quality standards, environmental regulations and labor laws, AND thorough inspection of each and every shipment from your (or any other) country. Small countries who don’t aspire to rule the world can afford that sort of thing.

  83. @investingwithnature

    > In one post you mentioned anyone with a household income of >$38,000, was in the top 1% on a world basis. Not sure how you got that number, since the median household income is in the $50,000s and the US makes up ~5% of world population. The numbers don’r work. I’m guessing it would take about $100,000 to be in the top 1% worldwide. Comments?

    The 2017 US median income was $61,372. So 50% of Americans make below that.

    The global median income is about $10,000. So 50% of the world’s households make below that.

    According to Investopedia “an income of $32,400 a year will allow you to make the cut (to 1% globally”.

    More numbers: https://www.cgdev.org/blog/world-bank-poverty-statistics-lack-median-income-data-so-we-filled-gap-ourselves-download-available

    “more than a third of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day”
    https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17312819

  84. Re years when “nothing happened”:
    There’s a strange gap in narrative accounts of English history: the last years of the reign of Henry the Seventh. From the marriage of his daughter Margaret to James IV of Scots (1503) to the end of the reign (1509) it’s as though the kingdom must have been in stasis. Six years of utter blank. All right, it’s mentioned in biographies of Thomas More, that he sat in the Parliament of 1505. But in general histories that Parliament is hardly mentioned. Nothing, in fact, is mentioned of that peculiarly quiet time.
    In histories of the land that is now the USA the early eighteenth century is almost as completely ignored. After the Salem business in 1692, what do we hear of next? The Great Awakening of the 1740s. Bit of a jump!

  85. Re: House of Saud

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is the year the House of Saud collapses. I’ll further go out on a limb and say OPEC reorganizes in 2019!

  86. Predictions:

    I go out on a limb and say I think Trump will get his wall. That depends, of course, on just how badly he wants it. But, if the President threatens to withhold aid to Israel–part of keeping the govt. going would be reducing foreign expenditures you know–the Senator from Tel Aviv might have to give in. Trump may not get the whole how ever many it is billion to hand out to his friends in the building industry. He may have to use the Army Corps of Engineers, not a bad idea in itself as this a matter of national security and sovereignty, and there will undoubtedly be environmental and diversity hiring restrictions, but I think he gets it.

    Monsanto is going down, and, I suspect, taking the corrupt and aged Democratic leadership, you should excuse the expression, and the far left SJW “but what about our jobs” contingent with it. About those ag sector jobs, everyone has to eat so neither farmers nor farm workers will ever become unneeded. Sure, they might have to work for scruffy organic farmers instead of Mr. Big Shot with the hundreds of acres of pesticide drenched produce. Too bad. Not that Republicans are not also complicit in the poisoning of our farmland, water and food but they are somewhat less obviously hypocritical about it, and the first order of business for any insurgency which wants to be successful is to purge the hypocrites from its midst. Looking forward to 2020, I assert that just about any believable Democratic insurgent candidate with the courage to combine support for healthy food and sustainable agriculture with an anti-imperialist anti-war program can win his or her primary against just about any entrenched business as usual Democratic congressperson no matter how many dirty tricks the DNCC plays.

    In fact, I am seeing more and more former Democrats stating on line that if they don’t see the name of a non-corporate Democrat on their ballot, “I’m voting Green”. I think the Green Party will grow over the next few years IF and ONLY IF it can fight off ongoing attempts at infiltration and take over by an SJW faction. Funny how the same people who used to despise all us “privileged” organic gardeners, bird watchers and greenies now need our votes.

    Farmers who can no longer sell soybeans to China can convert to a rotation which includes industrial hemp and we might even have a domestic textile industry again. Fancy that! Hemp is far superior to cotton for heavy duty textiles, such as tenting, sail cloth and work clothing, resists mildew, and hempen cord doesn’t, I understand, burn your hands.

  87. To Ashara:

    I am sorry I see some people replying snarkily to you. The truth is I used to think exactly like for a while. I was living in a liberoid bubble on the west coast so I just followed what my friends were saying. In my defense I was new to the country.

    I remember a scene in Karamazov Brothers where a rich lady complains to a monk that she loves humanity but she cannot stand people in person.

    I think your problems is exactly the opposite, and the solution is simple – go out there and talk to people.
    For me it was shocking to find that my so-called friends and acquaintances are just hypocrites (especially when it comes to climate change). On the other hand, poor people I meet (rednecks or not) work hard for their families and never preached to me about their beliefs. Should I complain that they don’t know or don’t believe in cc? Their eco footprint is 100x less than the rich posers.

    Oh and all the brouhaha over LGBT – as far as I can tell there are very few people fighting against it anymore, it’s only used for political manipulation on both sides. Ignoring it is the best you can do.

  88. JMG, a lot to chew on here, thanks.

    This part:

    “a galaxy of government policies, free-trade agreements and the tacit acceptance of unlimited illegal immigration among them, forced down working-class wages in the US to near-starvation levels while channeling increased profits to the investing classes”

    Agreed on free-trade and immigration, but you’ve been thumping those twin tom-toms for a while now. Could you (or the commentariat?) flesh out the rest of the galaxy of government policies that have forced down working-class wages, so I have a full magazine the next time I have to shoot down claims from the meritocracy class that working class people are where they are because they made bad decisions, weren’t smart enough, or generally lack merit?

    I’m wondering if government policies are mostly to blame, or if other financial “innovations” may have taken center stage in the impoverishment of the working class. For example, it seems that real estate has become a tool for enriching investors while making the most of the working class rent from the investors, or worse…putting them on the street. Is this entirely due to government policies?

    Also, are existing policies –that were put in place to protect the working class– being ignored when it’s the investor class violates those policies? Are laws only enforced when the precariat break them?

  89. Thank you very much for another year of sustained effort, JMG. Your wisdom is much appreciated. Enjoy your vacation, and best wishes for you and Sarah.

    Also, Greatings and Blessings to both our host and all the readership in this end of year. Happy 2019.

  90. For the near future I am predicting that one of the big West Coast Cities will get a law and order leader in response to the increasing homeless population and associated problems. Here in Portland we have a mayor who would qualify as the poster child for the senility of the elites. Scion of a prominent multi-generation Oregon timber dynasty, attended , Ivy Style University in Bay Area and was shuffled through a string of high profile state positions before winning the mayors election in Portland backed by Business Lobby Money. He has been unable to think beyond the business as usual paradigm, or do anything that seems remotely controversial. The standard progressive formula of slightly improved trickles of money to shelters, a few low income housing projects, and the support of more non-profits has done nothing to stem a problem that has many causes all related to the downhill slide down the back side of empire. But the simple solutions offered by a law and order politician might seem attractive to citizens that untill recently would have been alergic to such a thing.

  91. @Violet,

    That I am aware of, at least one of your predictions had already occurred by the time you made it. The “Blue Whale” is a 50 day series of challenges that desensitize young people to fear and self harm, and at the end urges them to go jump from a very high place. AFAIK it started in Russia in 2015 and by 2017 it had been translated to Spanish and hit Latin America. There have been dozens of fatal victims worldwide (both teenagers and prepuberescent children).

  92. I seem to remember that you said that you don’t use mundane astrology to produce your predictions for the new year. Even so, I had a sneek peak at the Aries Ingress and, although I consider myself in no way an expert in these things, it seems to confirm a lot of what you are saying here. In broad terms, it says to me that Trump will still be in power and doing what he promised during the election (how refreshing is that?!): namely breaking alliances and agreements that have just been costing us. There’ll be plenty of folks who don’t like what he does, but ordinary Americans will benefit.

    Anyways, you do it so much better than I ever could, so I’ll just look forward to your own take on the ingress and see how well my own analysis compares.

    Enjoy your (partial) vacation!

  93. One prediction for 2019:

    I will be receiving fewer spam emails from Democratic organizations, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’m now unsubscribing myself as they come in.

    They are terribly bland and predictable: “Outrage! Outrage! OUTRAGE! (Send us money.)”

    Thank you, no.

    A year from now, we should have a handle on who the main contenders for the Dem nomination are going to be, so that will be interesting to see. I’m hoping for at least one spark of hope among the expected crop of establishment candidates, but perhaps that would only lead to greater disappointment when he/she fails to get the nod. Maybe it’s better just to get the disappointment over with!

    Meanwhile, we all might as well get used to life in 4th-century Rome. Interesting times indeed.

  94. Hi Dylan,

    …the media fog OUTSIDE the U.S.”? Good Lord. You should see it INSIDE the U.S. Unless they’re telling about a natural disaster or a celebrity death, it’s all propaganda. Best thing to do is to read a local newspaper if your town is still lucky enough to have one that is run by news people and not by a hedge fund. Podcasts are helpful too but of course you don’t get the broad overview of world and national news that used to be readily available, you get whatever the podcaster felt like discussing that day.

    I’m more literate and well-informed than probably 90% of Americans: for example, I know that there are at least 3 flavors of Muslims, the Sunni, the Shiites, and the Wahhabis, roughly analogous to the mainstream Catholics, the mainstream Protestants, and the ultra Fundamentalists. These in turn are intertwined with a dizzying array of clan and tribal loyalties. I should know a lot more, but I can’t without a lot of time-consuming research, because our “news” sure ain’t going to tell me! This though the Middle East and doings therein are pretty important in today’s world. It’s as if people in charge of news in the 1940’s saw no need to tell us what all had gone on in Europe that day, or why that Hitler fella was so mad at German Jewry, or why Japan, a long way from Europe, was mixed up in it all. The situation is just awful.

  95. JMG – I just read an article “The day I tasted climate change”, from MIT’s Technology Review, in which James Temple, their Senior Editor for Energy, reacts to the Paradise fire. His bio: “I’m focused on renewable energy and the use of technology to combat climate change. ” He lives in California. To avoid the “taste” (smoke from the fire), he retreated… to Ohio. [He does not describe his mode of transportation, or its carbon footprint. Not relevant to the story, I suppose… 😉 Well, you see, he was going there anyway for Thanksgiving…]

  96. Well, one good thing about conditions staying more or less constant for another year is that I’ve got another year to work on collapsing. I already bailed out of my office job and paid off my student loans, and I’m working with my hands now. I’m hoping if I can build up a basic level of competence, I can start working on actual craftmanship in a few years.

    I’ve noticed that standard home building methods are pretty environmentally abusive – you scrape off a patch of earth, then build up with a maximum of waste, noise, and power usage. I’m learning the standard way now, but with an eye towards learning some gentler methods (adobe and stonework and old tires) on down the road.

  97. David, by the lake

    You mentioned Chinese detective films and it reminded me of an old Japanese TV show. Technically the main character was a judge -I believe the name was Kinson- but he’d disguise himself and go into detective mode, finding out about the situation, then, reverting back into a judge, he’d punish the evil doers. I could only follow it because of the subtitles. It aired on Hawaii Public TV. I’ve not been able to find it on Youtube. You might enjoy it. The setting was, I think, the Edo period.

  98. Investingwithnature –https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/050615/are-you-top-one-percent-world.asp answers your question about US incomes being in top 1% worldwide.

  99. Enjoy your break, Mr. Greer. You’ve more than earned it.

    Reading you here and at the old blog has changed how I think about the world and I thank for for that.

    In the meantime, while you are on hiatus, may I suggest to all your faithful readers:

    Attend your local, municipal meetings! The January ones set the budget tone for the rest of the year. How well your town is run affects your daily life in so many ways and, at the local level, you as a citizen do get a say. Save yourself from a 32 million dollar community center. Ban scissor-lifts from hotel parking lots thus forcing the developer to build a hotel that actually fits onto its lot. (These are current hot-button issues in Hershey.)

    Besides which, you may discover that your town/township has hidden layers of power that your local paper ignores.

    Best wishes to everyone for the new year.

    Teresa From Hershey

  100. Enjoy your break, and an early Happy New Year, JMG – well deserved, and Thank You for your weekly dedication to these discussions. I too, will be spending my spare time catching up on back-reading some of your previous essays and books. I’ll be looking forward to Feb.

    Two points in your predictions I have to quibble with – I don’t know if they would change any outcomes or shift the paradigm, but:

    1) On the glorious success of unemployment: we’ve been celebrating unemployment dropping since the Obama Administration and I don’t see it progressing any differently now. The thing is unemployment is going down, but under-employment is going up. Arguably better than unemployment, something is better than nothing, but from here in the trenches – most entry and just-above-entry level workers are part time. They, (we) work 2-3 part time jobs, (oh for the life of a medieval peasant!) so that the employers will not be required to pay benefits. They, (we) cannot make ends meet, could never hope to live without room mates or family pooling resources. That’s not so much of a problem, but what is a problem is that they/we will be absolutely sunk if any unexpected expense or illness occurs. Someone or other show up sick and sleepy every day at my store. This I get from anecdotal evidence from my co-workers at my grocery store, and in a variety of news reports on the state of employment, (I can link if you’d like, but I know you can find them yourself just as easily). So there is this disparity in the economic outlook for the working class with ‘money in their pockets’ and the reality.

    If I were to make any prediction, it would be that this ‘gig-economy’, the haphazard patchwork of employment, freelancing, buy/sell/swapping under the table will continue to grow in number of participants and frequency, which ironically will mean that more of us are far better prepared for a collapsed economy than previously thought.

    2) also sort-of from the trenches: I have 2 kids in their first year at University. I am in a few teen & college parent discussion groups, one of which has 200,000 members across the USA and smattering abroad. The age old discussion/dichotomy in these groups is “What is college for?” A slight majority nowadays do base their kids’ college aspirations purely on financial ROI. They see college as a path to a better paying job. Full stop. End of. No other purpose. Some report their kids are upset at having to waste their time and parents money taking useless core classes like Art or History. Then there are us airy-fairy, artsy-tartsy, intellectuals and wanna-be intellectuals who assist our kids aspirations to college for intangible esoteric goals of expanding their minds and becoming critical thinkers and better citizens, learning about disciplines and subjects in depth that may lead directly to a job or may only help in a circuitous way. The knowledge is always somehow useful and the experience and energies spent on 4 years worth going.

    I don’t personally think either perspective is right or wrong. I see value in both; but to your assertion that college is pretty useless – maybe more so if all you hope to glean is a high paying job, that’s risky. Anyway, I disagree. To the assertion that most of those ivy covered institutions will simply go out of business, Hmmmm. I don’t think so, Some will, but college was never MEANT to be a glorified trade school, focusing only on financial ROI. Before the mid-20th Century, it was accessible only to the rich and a few Brilliants on scholarship, but has always been thought worth the while as a civilizational R&D, even if only for the few. I think some will go out of business, but many will not. Those parents and kids who are only looking for financial ROI will go elsewhere, as they did in the old days. I don’t think that renders college education itself useless in a wholesale sense, only for certain things.

    3) RE: Ashara’s post, don’t know quite how to say this, but, If I may: Saying “but the left is worse or the left is just as bad” is, IMHO, a non-answer. It doesn’t address the problem or answer the question. I expect to read this kind of response (from both sides) on may blogs or discussions, but I’m a bit surprised and disappointed to see it from you. I mean, from a mind that has shown to be as analytical, perceptive and thoughtful as yours, I would have expected and certainly hoped for something quite different. Sorry.

    Again, happy January break and many thanks. 🙂

  101. @Shane, “I’m making a New Year’s resolution to take the fist out of the velvet glove, and to do away w/the niceties I reserve for day-to-day living, and be more like I am here on the list. I have a talent for getting under people’s skin and causing them to loose it, ’bout time I start using it.”

    Why? Or are you joking and it flew over my head?

  102. Hi John Michael,

    Enjoy your well earned break.

    Mate, adults were telling me that the Age of Aquarius was going to begin any day soon. I’m was pretty sure back then that they were lying to me, and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind since then. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  103. John Michael wrote, “The students would learn to recite a lesson from a hornbook, lunch on hasty pudding and succotash, take in articles extracted from the newspapers of the day, and in a couple of dozen other ways get a sense of what life was actually like in the colonies just over a decade before the Revolution broke out”

    I had a grade-school history teacher who taught as much like that as the Principal would allow. He also collaborated with the language and art teachers to turn stories into lived history by having us perform the Odyssey as a shadow play, making fetishes for the Gilgamesh gods, and singing lusty French drinking songs when reading Les Miserables.

    Then high school happened. Fortunately, before they could choke all the joy out of life and learning, I discovered that my sentence could be commuted to just three years through early admission to community college. The fetishes must have worked because my prayers were answered with college courses in Russian, rock-climbing and caving, a seminar on good and evil, and pottery. Хвала Богам!

    Recently I read Jacques Barzun’s history From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present, which gave me a similar sense of how daily life proceeded along while revolutionary changes in unquestioned presumptions slowly unwound beneath the surface. Barzun traced underlying themes of the Faustian worldview through biography, snapshots of particular cities in particular years, and literary and artistic analyses. Like your recommended history curriculum, Barzun’s hodge-podge gave me a better sense of actual lives lived with all their conflicting hopes, fears, and beliefs than any linear version of history could hope to.

    That’s not to say that Barzun didn’t internalize quite a bit of faith in linear progress and Western exceptionalism. But somehow he managed to help shatter apart those very myths that continued to hold him captive. And what more could we ask of history than that it help us to break into the myths and presumptions that bind us, that we might be able to glimpse outside ourselves.

  104. @ JMG – The internet ate my last comment so I will post it again; can you point me to the numbers showing an “employment boom at the bottom of the job pyramid”?

  105. Violet predicted, “The political Balkanization we see results in some organized method of targeting of folks IRL. Marks on the door or windows, etc. More targeted political violence. – Debatable.”

    I’m not sure how corporeal you intended “In Real Life” to be. In a capitalist economy where writers’ access to their audiences can mean the difference between employment and starvation, the censorship of dissident voices by Twitter, Facebook, etc. has all the hallmarks of an organized method of targeting of folks. The marks may be on their virtual doors, but the devastating outcomes of the bullying show up in their real lives.

    I think you knocked this one out of the park!

  106. JMG
    For what it’s worth, I reckon that a hegemonic currency and Empire go together like a horse and carriage. I think the British Empire’s first go at a ‘free market’ in 19th century might prove the point that ‘globalisation’ as we call our contemporary economics, is a product of these same essential requisites: a dominant trading currency and military – for the latter those 10,000 bases. So goes the world economy of the last decades. I guess the Roman Empire was similarly constructed.

    As the USA goes in 2019, so I guess does Britain. I expect however that here the working class will not see much net benefit. Part of our real income is provided by public sector provision covering vital costs; health, social care, education and other public goods. Expect fewer of these, even if wage rates rise after decades in the doldrums. Expect British political power centers other than central power; e.g. local and regional, i.e. all ‘local authorities’ and Scotland and Wales to be further constrained. Expect Universities and NHS to be forced further to follow the ‘American models’, pretty much the worst models in the developed world.
    best
    Phil H

  107. JMG,

    I mostly agree; historical/economic/whatever processes take a lot longer to play out than most people realize.

    However, there comes that magic moment when the comet/meteor hits, the barbarians ride into the village, whatever bubble fraud (tulips, South Sea, Wall Street) pops — and life changes irrevocably in an instant.

    I think we’re much nearer such a moment than almost anyone realizes.

    There’s a whole flock of black swans circling overhead….

  108. Ah John you are what I call in my world a Maestro. Authenticity like we trust the struggle of a great composer. With your forbearance I would love to offer a clip of my collaboration with Kurt Vonnegut he too saw well into the future but with a different slant. This is a humanistic requiem we collaborated on it has been banned by the Catholics and the Episcopalians. Kurt felt the spirit of times to come a great achievement for a atheist. May I

  109. Patricia and DJSpo, thank you!

    Godozo, fair enough.

    Karim, I don’t live in Europe and don’t have anything like enough experience with European politics and culture to hazard a guess. With regard to China, I don’t think the rising spiral of resource and environmental problems will slow its ascent to hegemonic status, but I expect that those problems will make its hegemony bumpier than ours was! Over the longer run, well, remember that Spain was a global hegemon at a time when fossil fuels were geological curiosities and the fastest mode of long distance transportation was a sailing ship; my guess is that unless long distance sailing technologies get lost, which seems extremely unlikely to me, we’ll have global hegemons for the foreseeable future.

    Ashara, of course we’re at an impasse. That’s normal in periods of serious sociocultural stress in this country all through our history. What’s more, the impasse isn’t resolved — what happens instead is that the people who are invested in maintaining it age out, and a new generation that is concerned with different issues takes over. In the present case, the bipartisan habit of turning every political issue into an opportunity for self-righteous moral grandstanding is already getting old, and a lot of young people in their teens and early twenties have no more time for the Left’s social-justice virtue signaling than for the Right’s pulpit-pounding equivalent. It’ll take a while before enough of them begin having a serious impact on politics, which is why the grandstanding and the resulting chasm will stay in place for some years yet. Again, this is business as usual.

    Michael, thank you. Sooner or later the markets are going to lose a lot of money and return to something like their historic means, corrected for the inflation we’re not supposed to be having (even though prices keep going up), but when that will happen I have no idea and I suspect no one else does, either.

    Lain, no argument there.

    Scotlyn, fascinating. That makes a great deal of sense — and at first glance, at least, I connect that parallelism with Spengler’s discussions of Faustian culture (i.e., ours) as intolerant of limits, constantly trying to extend itself to infinity. As the Faustian impulse gutters out, it seems to me that problems with the illusion of limitlessness might take shape in exactly the sort of problem with boundaries you’ve outlined.

    David, oh, granted. The universe doesn’t seem to be greatly concerned about our preferences, though! As for secession, I’m hoping that that can be avoided by way of a renewed federalism, but we’ll see.

    Sylvia, you’re welcome and thank you. Very few people these days are comfortable with not knowing the answer, and that’s one of the reasons we come up with so many stupid answers!

    Phil, if you can afford to pay for it, you’re among the few. One of the main reasons that college is a bad idea for most young people right now is that the student debt that has to be taken on by those less fortunate than your daughter is a burden from which the vast majority of college graduates will never recover financially.

    Jess, thank you! I hope you enjoy it. Yes, towns that depend on the academic industry for their survival are going to be in exactly the same predicament as towns that had one big factory locally, and it closed.

    Scotlyn, you’re definitely on a roll. I encourage you to work this up into an essay and see if you can get it published somewhere.

    Shane, I’ve been watching the Saudi situation closely. It’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen at this point, since it depends utterly on how effectively the Saudi crown prince can manage the turmoil of Saudi court politics. So far he’s been able to stay on top — but how long will that last? It’s impossible to say.

    Lathechuck, I think that counts as at least a partial hit!

    Kay, thank you.

    David, those would unquestionably be welcome!

    Terry, that works for me.

    Walt, hah! My wife collects old Walt Kelly “Pogo” comics, and that statistic sounds exactly like the sort of thing Howland Owl would use…
    Howland Owl

    John, those seem quite plausible. How did your predictions from a year ago turn out?

    OtterGirl, thank you!

    Methylethyl, many thanks for the data points. This matches what I’ve heard over and over again for the last decade.

    Violet, true enough — nonsense is far from easy, and funny nonsense even harder. 😉

    Investingwithnature, I didn’t keep links to the sites I used to get that number — that was quite some time ago, you know. If it’s relevant to a future post, I’ll doubtless look it up again.

    Denis, many thanks for this. Down south of the border we don’t often get this kind of detail, so I appreciate the data points.

    Roger, oh, granted. When change finally does break loose it can turn things on their heads in a matter of months — but as you’ve noted, it’s anyone’s guess what will actually come out of the chaos. When the US finally has to live within its means, and can no longer rely on selling unpayable IOUs to foreign governments to meet its domestic expenditures, we’ll face convulsive change — but what will come of it? Heck of a good question.

    Tripp, “Monsters for Solstice” would make a great band name. I’ll be dropping you a note about the products shortly; the short form is that the salves are first-rate — don’t know yet about the bug spray, as December in New England isn’t bug season.

    Jeffinwa, I can promise you that this break will be more relaxing than that one!

    Martin, yep. Europeans tend to forget that Europe is just a rocky peninsula sticking off the west end of Asia, no more inherently important than, say, the Indian subcontinent or th southern horn of South America. Its prominence in world affairs was a temporary condition and is rapidly drawing to a close.

    Robert, fascinating. I’ve been wondering about the vast empty space in colonial American history, too. The Mayflower landed in 1620, and the passage of the Stamp Act — the event that made the American Revolution inevitable — was in 1765; there’s 145 years between those two dates — the same as between the second inauguration of George Washington and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and quite a few things happened between those latter two dates! And yet very nearly the only thing anybody in the US knows about that happened between the Mayflower and the Stamp Act is the Salem witch trials. There was much, much more…

    Prizm, so noted!

    Nastarana, that makes sense. I expect the legalization of industrial hemp to launch a huge new agricultural sector and, given Trump’s fondness for sensible tariffs, probably a big new industrial sector as well. Hemp’s an extraordinarily versatile raw materlal, as you’ve noted, and a great many products now made from much more ecologically damaging things can be made from it instead. If that takes off as I expect in the next two years, it’s going to bring a much-needed economic boost to a lot of rural America.

    Copeland, talk to a few small business owners about government regulations and you’ll get an earful. It’s not any one specific regulation, or even one set of regulations — it’s the total burden of regulation, all of which requires employee time and most of which also involves various fees, and all of which lands proportionately much harder on small businesses (which are much more effective than large ones at generating jobs). I’m looking for some good quantitative measures on this, but the Trump-era boom in small business generation — notably in the African-America community — offers pretty fair prima facie evidence that the regulatory state had become a massive economic liability.

    CR, thank you and likewise!

    Clay, and if that happens, the shrieks of hysterical outrage and shrill moral posturing will be audible from the Moon — just as they have been since Trump won, and for the same reason.

    Reloaded15, I haven’t yet taken a look at the Aries 2019 ingress, but we’ll get to that in March, Please do post yours as well! It’ll be interesting to see how our delineations agree and differ.

    David, I think a comment about self-fulfilling prophecies is in order. 😉

    Lathechuck, hah. Yeah, that about figures.

    Cliff, delighted to hear it.

    SMJ, of course. Mercenaries are disposable, and so make a good rear guard for a staged retreat.

    Teresa, thank you!

  110. Caryn, thank you! (1) Both the stats I’ve seen and anecdata from people in flyover states suggest that in a significant number of job markets, especially away from the coasts, the gig economy is losing ground and working class people are gaining. I’ll see if I can find something quantitative on that, and discuss it in a future post. (2) None of that matters if your four years in college leaves you with a load of debt so onerous that you will never recover financially from its impact. There are many other ways to learn things that don’t involve mortgaging your entire future. (3) I think you’ve misunderstood what I’m saying. The point is that what’s wrong with American politics these days isn’t the fault of one or the other side of the political donnybrook, but with the entire culture of discourse in which politics has come to be framed — a culture of discourse in which the direct economic interests of the various actor are deliberately obscured by moral grandstanding. That’s the issue, as I see it.

    Chris, I’ve come to appreciate the theory, very widely held a century ago, that the Age of Aquarius began in 1879. This is it, and if you notice a certain lack of Utopian features, why, that’s true of each of the other ages…

    Christophe, you were fortunate! Barzun’s book is worth reading — it’s been a while, but I recall finding it a very solid read.

    Ben, sure. Start with this and this.

    Phil H., well, we’ll see!

    Trey, yes, and people have been expecting them to land all at once for decades now. Meanwhile the fabric of everyday life has been changing steadily in the direction of decline all along…

    Gavin, thanks for this!

    Edgar, and thanks for this as well!

  111. @ Chris Hope

    Re detective/judge films

    Thank you! I’ll have to see if I can find that series, as it does sound quite fascinating.

    I did finish the five Justice Bao films I’d found on YouTube and they were quite good. The ending of the last one, where the Judge risks his position (and life) to bring justice to a poor village woman whose husband had abandoned her (and their children and his aged parents) to marry into the imperial family was quite stirring and went right to the heart of the image I mentioned previously: justice, order, right living. Even understanding the nature of film and its quasi-propagandist role, it was impressive.

    If you haven’t read any of the Judge Dee mysteries, I’d heartily recommend them. They were written by Robert van Gulik and the magistrate has a similar passion for justice and a knack for investigation.

  112. ” the short form is that the salves are first-rate — don’t know yet about the bug spray, as December in New England isn’t bug season.”

    😁 Granted! Just getting you set up for the next cycle. Looking forward to your take on our most popular product as summer ’19 comes on.

    Glad you dig the salves. We love them too. The Comfrey Cream gets daily use at our house, and has for the last decade. The lavender in it is, among so many attributes, calming, so whenever we treat crying children the first swipe goes on the sinuses…

    We’ve also taken the general trend advice you’ve offered in this essay and others, and started angling our product appeal toward a more working class audience. We dropped the price on both salves from 12 to 10 bucks last spring, changed our pastoral slightly, and started collecting retail accounts at feed stores, conventional drug stores, and the like.

    So far it’s been a very good move…

    Tripp @
    smallbatchgarden.com

    Happy New Year to you all!!

  113. Barring something strange, I’ll register a hit on one of my Libra predictions: we are, in fact, getting a Democratic Speaker of the House. (I was slightly off – in the House we did indeed see a bone fide Blue Wave, rather than the ~25 seat gain I expected- but close enough.)

    Astro predictions for the new year, based on what I’ve looked at from the upcoming ingresses so far:

    – Trump will be impeached by the House, sometime between March and September, for reasons relating to Russiagate. He’ll probably survive and remain in office, but a Trump resignation might be consistent with the charts if Trump thinks that he’s getting a net gain out of it.
    – Speculative investments will fare poorly in 2019, though I’m less convinced we’ll see a proper bubble burst. (If we don’t, that’s likely to show up in 2020 – this year has Saturn and whatever remains of Pluto’s influence in the fifth house in most of the US ingresses, including both of the ones that should definitely be operative, while next year’s Aries chart has Uranus there instead.)
    – It’s not a lock, but I’ll go out on a limb and predict that China’s economy enters recession early in the year. (I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s tension between a nationalist government and a less nationalist populace there.)
    – The US economy tips over into recession late in the year, though the brunt of it won’t hit until 2020. (As I’ve noted before, Shane may yet get his depression – US Aries 2020’s second house is pretty much “take the second house from the 2008 Libra ingress and throw 2.5 malefics in on top of it”.) However, the working class and/or military personnel should do pretty well for at least the first half of the year.

    Longer-term prediction: Trump will not be reelected in 2020. That’s a direct consequence of that last economy prediction above and “it’s not different this time”: a major recession starting during a President’s first term is the first exception to the usual rule that incumbent Presidents win re-election, and that goes double if it hits during the reelection year.

    (Longer-term prediction that has nothing to do with astrology – which, if anything, might suggest a woman President in 2021 – and everything to do with gut instinct: Beto O’Rourke will be the next President of the United States.)

  114. @JMG Thanks a million. I will certainly continue ruminating (what can I say, we rear sheep and this *still* strikes me as the best word) on this and maybe, write it up. Many thanks for the expression of confidence and spur to action. I would like to put on record having been profoundly influenced in the 70’s by Susan Sontag’s essay “Illness as metaphor”, which, although it is years since I read it, IIRC it charts the historical shift from tuberculosis as the illness which symbolically reflected the obsessions of the pre-war “gilded age” to cancer, the illness which symbolically reflected the issue of HER age, which I now think has shifted to autoimmunity. I must take a closer look at Spengler’s take on the intolerable nature of limits in Faustian culture. I think what you have referred to as the concept of the heroic self against the world (me vs not-me) will also have to be transformed if our new insights re microbiome ecology are to become culturally “meaningful”.

  115. John,
    I hope you have a nice relaxing break. Also, as I hoped, I received a copy of the second Weird of Hali book for Christmas, and I am sadly racing through the delightful text far quicker than I would like as I just can’t put it down. It’s a real treat to read, and it’s so refreshing to have a novel that embraces a more realistic version of magic than is found within the pages of JK Rowling’s depressingly popular books. Cheers, Averagejoe.

  116. One of the most important things that happened in American history between the Mayflower and the Stamp Act was the short-lived Royal governorship of Sir Edmund Andos over the northern colonies (from 1686 onward).

    The New World, in sharp contrast to Old England, offered immigrants land that they could own outright, and governments in the Colonies recognized private ownership of land. The immigrants jumped at the chance to own their own land; they bought, sold and traded land over and over, as often as they could manage it. Andros attempted to make all the land in the colonies essentially Crown property (as it was in England). Under this system, any individual ownership of land was conditional upon payment of an annuat fee (quit-rent) to the Crown, and could be revoked at any time without any compensation to the individual who had supposed that he owned it outright. This struck at the very basis of all private wealth in the Colonies.

    Andros’ efforts in thios direction were more than enough to incite the colonies to a subtle form of outright revolt, and Andros ended his governorship under arrest in solitary confinement in Massachusetts, before being shipped back to England by the Colonial authorities in open defiance of the Crown.

    This was, IMHO, one of the most important of all developments in the course of the prehistory of the United States. [And I was appalled to see the old, discredited theory that all land was ultimately owned by the Goverment, and only leased to the citizenry, being pushed again by (IIRC) Dick Cheney and the wing of the Republican political establishment associated with him.]

  117. Hi JMG, in your comments, and your reply to Copeland you link “regulation” to “government”, a common conception, however in my experience there is a growing and powerful private bureaucracy laying as heavy a burden upon small businesses as any government, and that is the modern corporation (which I sometimes think aspires to become, effectively, privately run government.).

    As I have stated before I have a job and a vocation. The job is to be both a box-ticker on forms, a preparer for audits, and a bureaucracy-fender-offer for a small company involved in petfood production. (And I still often call on the favours of Eris during this Bureaucratic Cycle in the Ages of Chaos).

    Of course there is (Irish) government regulation, and it has effects, and can wield important powers, such as closing down the business for serious infractions. However, there are political costs to such actions (to have caused a loss of jobs, for example, is never a good look in politics), which tend to lessen the “bite” of the regulatory arms of the government, and often makes them co-seekers of solutions to keep businesses in business. However, by far the most onerous audits, and the ones that multiply costs for the small company I work for (and I suspect many others) arise from the corporate customer, who is only one link in a long corporate supply chain between us and the tin on a supermarket shelf that will be purchased by a customer.

    Suppose that customer wants to see a word, such as “sustainably caught” in relation to the fish included in the ingredients in this tin? The customer naturally wants to guide their own buying choices in accordance with their ethics. However, just this word, alone, requires the small business I work for to be able to trace every single scrap of fish we process right back to the boat and sea area of its catch. (And I can tell you straight up that, even though we are only two to maybe five steps away in the chain from that source, the amount of manpower we would need to actually perform this level of tracking and documentation would triple our payroll. So we have to take shortcuts and make assumptions – and it is my working assumption that this commonly the case, as the stated requirement is impossible to perform.

    Still, the corporation wishing to put those words “sustainably caught” on the tin on the shelf, feels perfectly entitled, should they have the time and personnel to do so, to audit the records and accounts of every supplier in every part of the chain as often as they like. I am frequently asked for “sample traces” and, unless I am extremely careful, I am aware that I will be putting possibly sensitive commercial documents belonging to many other (even smaller) companies and/or individual fishermen into, essentially, private and unaccountable hands, handing each one up to the power of the corporation. Corporations also band together to establish private standards (the one we work to is the BRC – British Retailers Consortium, which essentially governs all food products sold in supermarkets and multiples in Britain and Ireland and is internationally recognised), and these private standards are often policed more thoroughly and with less regard to the commercial consequences to small businesses than any civil servant could dream of daring.

    I therefore think it is worth thinking of the regulatory frameworks that make life so onerous for small businesses as emerging both from governments and from corporations, and at least governments DO have to (be seen to) address certain aims (eg safe food) that affect quality of life for ordinary citizens, but corporate regulatory frameworks do not. Private profit for shareholders is their ruling ethic, however it plays out. The ethic gives mouth service to “what the customer wants”, however this is usually addressed in practice by “letting the customer know, through effective marketing, what the customer wants” so it ends up being about profit for shareholders anyway.

  118. Enjoy your vacation JMG, and thanks for all of the insights and fine writing this year. I don’t comment much these days, but read every week and buy a book or two each year. I will rattle your tip jar too. A few things passed through my mind as I read the post and comments:

    If I was to write down 10 things that really got my attention and caused me to act differently in 2018 they would be mundane things in my own life: health issues, work changes, kid issues, a flooded basement, various gardening triumphs and failures. etc. That’s the way it is for most people, and always will be. We pay attention to things in the here and now, do our best with what we’re faced with. In terms of world history, I’ve lived through some pivotal times – 1968, 1979/80, 1989. But it was only 2001 and 9/11 where history really impacted me personally, really grabbed my life by the lapels and shook it up. I guess I’m fortunate in that regard – my grandfather never really got over WWI shell shock and my parent’s formative years were in Europe and the far-east in the 1940s. I’ve had such an easy ride. Big History has only rarely interrupted my daily life. That’s probably true for most Americans.

    And then there are the stories we tell ourselves to try to weave life events into some sort of narrative, if we choose to. And most of us love the stories. For much of my life, the story was up, up and beyond – standard progressive stuff. Then, during the financial crisis, when I first discovered your writing and other peak oil sites, my mind was full of the story of imminent collapse, and that really clouded my view and the stories I told myself. I know you were not preaching rapid collapse, just the opposite – but the intensity of the new insights on my previously progressive worldview was strong, and really left its mark, not always in a healthy way (although it did get me to downsize my lifestyle), But the intensity of that time passed, and I have balanced out into a more steady view of events. As you suggested many years ago, I keep reciting that there is no brighter future. Keep trudging along. Keep calm and shrug, that kind of thing. That seems to be a true story – but man is it boring! My mind would definitely prefer to weave a more colorful narrative of progress or collapse.

    Perhaps because I’m looking for some color in my narrative, I’m fascinated by the idea of a working class resurgence during this long road down. I would very much like to see that, although I don’t think it likely to happen until the investor and management classes feel sufficiently in need of the working classes that they decide they need to share the wealth. What could cause that? I don’t see Trump doing it, he seems to me to be dithering around a few token acts, but I don’t think his heart’s in it. His wallet certainly isn’t. I’m tending to see him as a bookend to the era that started with Reagan, Reaganism’s Carter if you will. The guy that shows how exhausted the old model is, who gets run over by events, not the guy who starts a revolution. Am probably wrong. But we’ll see which way it goes in 2019. The coming election cycle should be an enjoyable spectacle, something to take my mind off the next time my basement floods 🙂

    Thanks again for all you do and have a restful and quiet winter break.

  119. Hi John Michael,

    I’m genuinely glad that you did not mention the year of 1967 regarding the Age of Aquarius! 😉 Although it would have been very amusing.

    I had not previously realised the extensive depths that the arguments surrounding this date have generated, and I must bow to your greater knowledge in this area.

    Far out, it is hot down here, but hopefully a cool change will arrive tomorrow and bring some rain.

    Cheers

    Chris

  120. Re: Trump pulling out of Syria; if he is switching over to mercenaries, might it not in fact be because he wants to deepen US involvement? With operations more covert and more illegal than heretofore, so he needs greater deniability and untraceability?

  121. I have recently discovered the LeNormand Divination System. I’ve been having fun playing with this way of looking at the future. For myself, my 2019 looks to be one where I will engage in activities that gladden my heart as well as going into meaningful work. In fact, many readings of LeNormand encourage a 2-card reading where the first card (here, the Heart) is the noun, and the 2nd card (Fox) is the adjective. It looks like passion that works is basically my own personal theme for 2019–which is excellent, given that I really want to focus on building my astrology/tarot practice as well as my screenwriting and playwriting careers this year.

    Anyway, I took a crack at 2019 for the generality of US Citizens, and drew the Woman and the Cross cards. The Woman pretty much describes the feminine in general, but also the female gender and specific women. The Cross is a card of burdens, obstacles, difficulties. It can sometimes denote religion, and the book I got (“The Art of LeNormand Reading” by A. Musruck) suggests it as a card of karma. Interpretations of these two cards together speak to a feeling of being drained or overwhelmed, and that there’s little forward progress. Kind of similar to the general prognostication of “same-o, same-o,” which I gather from the subject of this installment of Ecosophia. One interpretation might be that the #metoo movement and its offshoots hit some speed bumps and have to negotiate different obstacles. It might also be a year where religious women start to make their voices heard. My own personal and mystical thought is that the Divine Feminine puts people through all sorts of growing pains, and brings a grittier, more Saturnine expression to the proceedings, and perhaps certain elements of feminism reach their “second act turning point”–the “All Is Lost” moment before real significant diving deep into the archetypes is the avenue of rescue. (Sorry if my thinking like a screenwriter alienates you. This is part of the way I make sense of my own reality.)

    Funny enough, I’m engaged in trying to write a screenplay in 30 days which is proving to be quite an interesting journey. I had to take a small bit of time away to do a quick revision of another script that’s making its way through a contest with important feedback along the way. My new script I’m describing as “The Ransom of Red Chief” meets “Little Buddha,” where the kidnapped child happens to be an avatar of one of the White Goddesses that populate various mythic structures. (Rhiannon, White Buffalo Woman, Isis, Obatala’, White Tara, White Mari, etc.) Her kidnappers are also women, and they’re the ones who get to go through the transformation because avatars are catalyst characters. I’m still figuring out the structure, but I have the essential conflicts pretty well thought out.

    On a random note, I had a dream today that relates to this. You guys will get a kick out of this one: In my dream, a news report about rumblings about the setbacks of women’s rights and the rights of other groups started it off. Someone in the newscast intoned that the news out of California that a revival of the Communist Party was underway, was fake news. But the person intoning this seemed to think a revived Communist Party could at least find a way to balance out the Rightward drift, and thought it should come from a red state. At this point, I realized the news report was no longer on TV, but that I was in the room with these people. Persons pointedly looking my way when the intoner said “Like Wyoming.” I startled awake at this bizarre thought, first of a revival of a defunct party (though I do think that something like a revitalized left that really addresses economic realities would be helpful), and second, that I should be the one to make it happen. Lucky for me, almost all of my dreams are “antiprophetic.” In other words, whatever happens in them? I can pretty much guarantee won’t happen. I can’t tell you how many dreams of productions of my plays I’ve had, that caused me upon waking to shake my head in sorrow. “Guess that one too ain’t gonna happen. Why the F do I keep doing this?” etc.

  122. John–

    Re a new federalism and secession

    I absolutely agree that a renewed federalism (coupled with an economic nationalism and a reticence with respect to international involvement) is likely our best possible path forward and holds out the best chance we have of holding the bulk of this nation together. I’d argue, however, that “holding on loosely” also means allowing those who truly wish to leave to do so and that a legal pathway for separation would be a necessary component of that revised federalism, for there will undoubtedly be those regions who decide that membership in the collective is no longer in their best interest and they ought not be compelled to remain. (Now I’d also suggest that this pathway include certain provisions, such as a demonstrated super-majority of the state legislature and populace supporting the move and a willingness to be assigned a pro rata portion of the national debt upon departure.) In the end, however, I do believe that even this measure will only slow, rather than halt, the dissolution of the present Union into more culturally coherent regional nation-states.

    May the winnowing of the central bureaucracy continue in the coming year!

    Re self-fulfilling prophecies

    I must confess my guilt on that score. I was applying the Bene Gesserit stratagem of “predicting the future and then working to make it so.” 🙂

  123. @JMG: Quite welcome! That’s definitely the impression I get, and I have a number of friends and family who used to be associated with academia.

    Hope the break treats you well, and I’ll look forward to reading Dreamwidth entries!

    @Caryn: I really liked my college experience too, and I think I learned a lot–a little of it even in class–but the student loans are outsized, and my impression is that college-as-requirement has made what used to be, as you say, a way of expanding your mind and learning how to think into a hyper-costly industry focused on suiting the current market, and gouging prices accordingly while also fracking over the professors, TAs, and support staff. My alma mater, which was a great school for eclectic liberal arts folks while I was there and before, has spent the last dozen years or so trying to turn itself into a two-buck version of MIT or Stanford, then added a super-MBA program of some sort, with the associated costs of infrastructure.

    (Also college athletics, which are a pit of corruption and general waste of money.)

    If I was in charge, which I’m unlikely to be, I would have a government-funded program in basic liberal arts and critical thinking for everyone, with the option to pursue advanced subjects or STEM research at a few places, and no competitive sports that the students didn’t organize and fund themselves. I’d also require physical community service, and make it mandatory for all students to attend an institution far enough away from home that they couldn’t see their parents every weekend. You get a dorm room with a bed, a desk, a computer, and places to put your stuff, a communal bathroom with showers and sinks, and a cafeteria with one main course and a bunch of side dishes.

    This is very different from even the college experience of my youth, and definitely the sort my mom mentioned seeing by the time she retired from college counseling. (Hot tubs in dorms. I do not even.)

    @Ashara: I know what you mean–frankly, Trump doesn’t upset me nearly as much as Ryan, McConnell, Pence, and the official GOP platform, which is God, gays, guns, and bootstraps, far as I can tell. And I still have no use at all for anyone who actually believes that sort of thing.

    That said, if someone agrees with me on, say, LGBT rights, or women’s right to bodily autonomy, or whatever, but thought that Trump wouldn’t really damage those things, that the economic welfare of the 99% or defense was more important, and that the GOP plan on those would really help…I think they’re wrong, but not maliciously so. We want the same thing in the end, even if we disagree wildly on how to get there–as opposed to the GOP establishment, who want to be living in a completely different universe, as far as I can tell.

    (I also don’t share their priorities, but people for whom ending war is a higher priority could justly criticize me for supporting the Obama administration, and I don’t have the sociopolitical or philosophical training to come down anywhere but “we all have to pick our battles,” on that one.)

    So…that and gin help.

  124. @violet @jmg @kay robison Thanks for the encouragement 🙂 Yes, it’s Vegas – I spent a lot of time there this spring.

  125. Does any one have good links and articles about the cutback in regulations and there economic impact. I have been unable find anything deceit about that.

    Thanks

  126. & JMG (re: paying for college): Thank you; I do consider myself and my daughter fortunate. And we’re not wealthy; we saved money for college since the day she was born.

    I do completely agree about the problem of incurring huge debt for college. Still, I find college so worthwhile for many of those who choose it. But there are so many options: community and city colleges, some state colleges, a few private colleges (very, very good ones) with no tuition, various scholarships and financial aids, veteren’s benefits, foreign universities, etc.

    The concept of incurring massive debt that you may never be able to repay is sadly not limited to college students and is a symptom of a different problem, I think, and not a reason to condemn college. Not to say that some schools aren’t adding their fair share of the problem.

  127. Again – about college, (and I’ll try to keep it brief as kind of off topic). But I do want to share it with our commentariat for those who may have kiddos and are interested:

    I could not agree more that student loan debt is madness and many a hapless parent and student are being bamboozled into mortgaging their futures with them, however: again from my parent group discussions, there are a plethora of different paths to circumvent these, if one is aware.

    Many high schools now offer dual credit classes in addition to or instead of AP classes for college. DC classes are provided by the local community college and can often be used as incoming college credits by the State schools. A student can graduate High school with a diploma and an Associates degree, then finish up going only 2 years at a 4 year.

    ROTC is thriving, a lot of kids opt for this route to pay for college and serve their country.

    Merit and institutional aid. The reason so many kids and parents push so very hard in high school for straight A’s in rigorous classes is that it translates to $$ when applying to colleges. MOST of my parent-group fellows try for this route. Tuitions these days are like buying an airline ticket – the person sitting next to you may have paid 10 times more or 10 times less than you did depending on the merit aid offered which was determined by their GPA and test scores. Many expensive private colleges can give enough merit to undercut the local state universities.

    State universities – Most states support their universities and potential attending students with state scholarships, “President’s Scholarship”, Millennial Silver Scholarship”, Bright Futures”, etc. each state has their own. Here in FL ours, ‘Bright Futures’, pays 100% of cost of attendance for state HS grads making a 3.2 or above, (B average) 100 hours of some community service and a specific, (also about a B average) SAT or ACT test score. It is funded by our lottery system.

    Ivies – “top-tier” Ivies: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and an increasing number of others, (Cornell, Duke and Brown have just started to increase this too) have deep pockets of alumni cash and offer institutional grant aid to families making under $165,000, some thresholds are a bit higher or lower, but if your kid actually gets IN to one of those, they will not be barred from going for financial reasons.

    Trade Schools – one path taken is trade school, make $ then 4 year bachelors study in, well whatever the heck you WANT! pay for it as you go with a highly salable trade. It sounds kind of pie in the sky to me, but apparently a number of young adults are doing this very successfully.

    The most informative group I’ve discovered is a closed Facebook group called “Paying For College 101”. The 200,000 strong group is called “Grown & Flown Parents”. Hope this helps someone.

  128. Mr. Greer:

    🙂 I am NOT comfortable with not having a full understanding or any answers, but I don’t actually have an answer, so … here I am until the right fact or way of looking at things causes it all to snap into focus.

    I’m trying to get a good understanding of alternate ways of getting things done, and understanding the necessary material and energy feeds for a process. (So, when stuff starts changing, I will be able to either buy socks from a store, or knit some.) Food production needs a lot more of my attention.

    Whoever mentioned Jacques Barzun, thanks. I need to go find my copy. It’s been 15 years since I read it.

  129. @Nastarana,
    first of all, I don’t expect it to play out that way. I expect the West Coast will secede, starting w/California, including Nev., then Colo. & NM–Ariz is a swing state, secession wise. Shortly after Calif. & some of the West Coast states get the ball rolling, I expect a New England state, likely Vermont, to secede, followed by the rest of New England (perhaps New Hampshire and Maine will be the last of New England to secede) Secession could be particularly contentious for New York b/c of the upstate/downstate divide–I’d expect NYC and suburbs to be gung ho, but upstate to be pro-Union. Secession could exacerbate this known division. You know better than me. Regardless, once all is said and done, I think that things will stabilize and solidify once the greater West Coast and everything from Baltimore north to the Canadian border in Maine is gone. Therefore, I expect the rest of the country to stay together for a while, and I don’t expect a border to go up between the South and the Midwest right away. (Eventually, there will be a national border along the Ohio River, but that will be stage two.) I expect the first seceding areas to have a rough go of it b/c more of their wealth is in the tertiary economy, and therefore subject to disappear, even though they don’t realize this. Secondly, I expect the Confederacy to do everything in its power to conciliate Texas and give it whatever exemptions it wants (similar to Quebec or California in Canada and the US today) for it to be a part of the Confederacy, thereby giving it a land border with Latin America. I fully expect the second iteration of the Confederacy to be as focused on Latin America as the first. If the other former Republics want to play hardball w/the Confederacy, then they will look to Latin America for assistance. Secondly, for the same reason as Canada, I expect more, let’s call them, “Yankees” have property and investments in the Confederacy as the other way around. Same thing w/Canada–a lot more well-to-do Canadians own property and investments in the states, so if Trump were to shut down the Canadian border and expropriate Canadian property, Canadians would be disproportionately affected than Americans if Canada retaliated in kind. I expect the case is similar, if not as extreme, w/”Yankee” investment in the Confederacy. Lastly, I don’t expect hard borders or customs/tariffs to go up right away, simply b/c this is not the way things go in a peaceful secession/dissolution. This was not the case w/the Soviet Union. Borders will thicken over time. Tariffs will develop over time as countries pursue different economic goals and have different economic interests. Countries don’t form over night. Once we have a “successful secession”, the goal will be to have a smooth transition to independence, minimizing disruption to both sides. Free trade and (relatively) open borders will have to be maintained until economic and governmental independence can be achieved for both sides. Look at the Canadian border as an example. It did not exist until after the Revolutionary War, and until recently, people could travel freely. As recently as the 60s or 70s, and American could just up and move to Canada, or vice versa, no questions asked.

  130. Oddly enough, Nova Scotia almost became the 14th stripe on the American flag. Support for revolution was high in Nova Scotia, and a lot of Massachusetts patriots owned property there. Don’t forget that there was the French & Indian War before the Revolutionary War. Support for statehood was actually higher than Confederation in Newfoundland in 1949, and the US could easily have had Newfoundland if it wanted it.

  131. Well, maybe it’s just me, but I would like to see the tech bubble burst in such a way that talk of self-driving cars, AI, and digitalia seems as shopworn as space travel.

  132. this is long because i don’t have time to edit (smile), and actually thought about what i’d write here for DAYS. and also i figured if it’s gonna be a quiet month, we can stretch out and take up more space without seeming too rude for holding forth in YOUR living room til 2am. / i wasn’t gonna write but you’ve gotta know how needed this post before your break is. the optimism of the best underground “fxck you” artistic DEFIANT kind. bohemia may very much be dead dead dead but some of us, and i mean you and your wife, are doing a good job at keeping the collective straws above the water for the superfreaks, so’s we can breathe a little longer til we get our bearings.

    i’m getting my bearings and i was starting to feel an odd optimism in the face of so much despair bleakness blah blah blah. i see why you’ve gotta go deep deep deep into hell, where most fear not making it out (oh, i’ll second that… each new trip is more and more of a doozy, making the last visit seem like disneyland. oh no. but i actually did think disney-everything everywhere was creepy. how can you not be a colored girl a colored or any kind of different person and NOT??? the only gay people are evil or dwarves).

    anyhow, your POST..i know as a leo i’m so “enough about you more about ME” and i’ve gotta focus…anyhow… thank you for the permission to feel OPTIMISM. but we artists are taught to frolic in death and rot, right? i mean real artists, you all. the kind with shreds of their own intestines in their teeth.

    anyhow, i mention hell because it has stages and TRUE DEFIANCE to me is being free while being in prison. ah, but the delicate balance is between sanity and madness and in a mad world …whoa, things get topsy turvy in a hot and heavy MINUTE.

    so at this age i’m comfortable with taking a beating but this existential global one we’ve all been partaking in, i smelled it deeply inhaled for the better part of 8 or 9 years and now i finally feel the inspiration and that flicker of electricity like the kind Shane WANTS so desperately to feel but is afraid that even though it’s cool to be queer, it all really comes down to “are you behaving like the rest of us?” witch trial stuff that they will only likely remember in the future about this time as well. they will kill you for disagreeing, telling them how you feel and looking them in the eye. they will kill you for being different. that’s why this diversity stuff is b.s. / and liberal conservative mean nothing.

    so not we’re in a time of contraction as well as with words meaning nada and time for ACTION.

    and i FEEL it, Mr John Michael Greer. and than you for the reflection of that joy that i was AFRAID to feel. GUILTY for feeling when all about me is going to hell… but it ISN’T is it? right now it’s what i’ve got. it’s perfect. it’ll have to do. it’s everything. however i put it, it works for me, and depending on the day or the MOMENT it may be slightly slanted a different way. feelings change.

    but that’s the thing. thanks for the needed ..what’s the words? distance… i don’t know. i speak in faery tales but it’s like since the underground or bohemia or the freaks …now that there is no secret under-the-rock cheap place for us to congregate and the internet takes the Shanes and keeps them inside on their computers instead of spinning them wildly out into the world to SCREAM I’M HERE a la every revolution..

    but all escape goats who caused huge dinner fights just by existing, we needed trump, we needed the chaos the everything to SEE it ain’t right.

    anyhow, whoever gave the PATTERN DRAFTING vs. DRAPING run down, thank you, too! i needed that because i wrote down the name of your book because i’m addicted like that now, but i re-read your post a few times to catch everything, and i needed the reminder of how FAST draping would be compared to the math kind.

    yes. i needed to remember that as i focus on what i need to LEARN so i just got 3 draping books at the library to further focus. i have fantasies of teaching some of the neighborhood homies here, once i figure this out.

    if we’re to start a localized custom movement, we need to be able to re-use recycle or make things as affordable as we can with our own labor, the highest cost. so i can point someone who likes math to that style, and just focus on getting the grains of draping right for now.

    i wanna fight the death of art and all things cool on the internet and fight hard hard for individuality and “one-at-a-timeness” again. the human. their collective vision is borg-like.

    i preach but some of us artists, we need to stop being employees to a dying system and use our talents with money (from doing magic on pennies) to re-create our own localized ones out of old, old economic systems. and even as an artist who’s made a living off my visions and thoughts, it’s been a hard slog to BELIEVE in anything anymore. people especially or mostly. well, people are the hell. the world is fine as scary as it can be. people are crazy with double triple speak that even they believe.

    so your post before the break is perfect for meditating upon a newer more active vision and DOING for the future. as Aged Spirit says, we don’t have mice in our pocket so it’s up to us one at a time.

    i hope you don’t spend all month answering us all or it’ll be like no break at all. i hope you also go and rub your eyes and learn to see distances again or whatever you need to do to refresh yourself for the adventures that come!

    –by the way, Shane, i hope this short sabbatical gets you outside and risking taking your conversations and feelings to the NEXT level so you’ve got a lot of adventures to report back on. it doesn’t take much to start a lot of hell; all you’ve gotta do is look people in the eyes and say how you really feel true and without ego. their heads will explode. YOURS will explode and you’ll start your own vertigo everywhere. the kind you get when you fall in love with one person and are alone telling secrets under the stairwell.

    i now call them “Near Life Experiences” instead of near death ones. where you look into someone’s eyes and let silences be silences or don’t cut them off and let them talk and you say what comes to mind no matter how odd or uncomfortable either of you may feel. some people say i hypnotize them but i’m just PAYING ATTENTION, LISTENING.

    i actually do a lot of my paying attention when i’m the one doing the talking. just like in movies the reaction shots of the one NOT talking are often the most interesting as they say the most.

    anyhow, i needed the PERMISSION to think optimistically during such times. it’s also why i’m struggling to go even further back in the 1980s before all THIS, and even avoid much news. i know what i need to know. beyond that i think ingesting all this bitterness and bile becomes its own addiction.

    and last thing to YOU, Shane: that’s the other thing about being born to be the bad ass the instigator. you have to stretch your powers of agitation to see people’s most likely reactions. push too far. i wanna see where we’re going. when you get people off balance in any situation, no matter how gentle or assertive, you watch their REACTION and you will see what they are made of.

    i write you in this after many days of thought. the internet’s worst sin is that is has neutralized many wild souls like you and kept you tethered to a safe place like the internet. it has killed art and anything truly NEW because like many of our warriors being imprisoned they seek to neutralize the wild alive.

    and i was thinking that this sabbatical will be good for ALL of us and that’s when i realized John Michael Greer’s post was like a PRAYER he put out there because i felt the zingers of “gotta get out and get stuff DONE” –which i haven’t felt in YEARS since i was a ME ME ME author working emailing phoning shucking and jivin I’M SO IMPORTANT–nah.

    i haven’t believed in anything enough to wanna get OUT and get going.

    thanks for the permission because i didn’t know if i was going another kind of mad. “sublime nihilism” the kind that i’m hearing a couple of different former journalists cum gig workers for uber and amazon, it’s dangerous. sublime nihilism can make you a zombie or make you DANGEROUS.

    because nothing’s more interesting than not giving a damn, but cleaning the lice out of the idea so no one gets slaughtered (or few), compared to the typical ME ME ME / FXCK YOU model we’ve been working with.

    good luck you all. smell the smells of despair til you wanna puke and DIE in your own tears of despair, then i swear… keep crawling and there are crazy wild flowers that smell like purple and green out here.

    i fantasize an underground (much cash only) localized custom movement even including shoes or boots out of recycled soles or leathers or denims and canvasses. people hate the shoes that’re available now.

    the internet has made whores of us all with nothing to wear because nothing fits and it all looks like crap.

    i wanna see Shane stomp around his town like a PIMP. an unapologetic PIMP. i wanna see colors that are dissonant and scream or subdued and stealth.

    OPTIONS ART BEAUTY… we have GOT to defy the death of everything beautiful.

    there. that’s my prayer. tag.. next one’s it. pass this stuff on. we need it. and if we’re wrong, the good part of doing this is that even if you’re wrong you make it RIGHT by doing it. you change the writing on the wall.

    i forget this stuff all the time.

    it’s hard to be alone and not be influenced by the collective. we keep forgetting we ARE one! how silly. in the meantime…

    x

  133. “Tripp, “Monsters for Solstice” would make a great band name.” -JMG

    I like it. But if I ever led a band it would be a tony big brass ska band called “Ecotone,” complete with suspenders and a classic pork pie, although I don’t play any instruments these days, and my voice isn’t what it used to be during my Baptist choir days either.

    I should probably work on both of those shortcomings at some point…these dark oil-lamp-lit nights without solar power after endless rainy days – which seems to be a new climate norm around here – would probably be a lot livelier.

    😉

  134. @Ashara and NomadicBeer: There was a joke someone once told me on the old Huffington Post: “Conservatives are the salt of the earth kinda people who will give you the shirt off their backs, but only if you are family, if they think you deserve it and are ‘the right kind of people’. Liberals OTOH want to save the world. They love everyone…they just don’t want to get to know you personally. Please keep your distance.”

    As a liberal, (not a ‘Libroid’ as discussed here last week) with a mostly conservative family, I have to admit that was pretty funny, because it’s true. 😉

    @CR Patino, yes, I’ve read a few articles suggesting Black Water is angling to fill the void left by the troops. They have an ad out saying “We’re baaaa-aack!”) As I recall, Trump has met with Eric Prince, or is supposed to meet with him….can’t remember. He’s certainly not yet said anything remotely committal to that effect.

  135. Robert & JMG- RE: gap in colonial US history

    For details about that period that don’t make it to the modern classroom look into a good local/state history for one of the original colonies.

    In pursuit of gaining a better concept of my “native” land, New Jersey, I have been currently reading a book entitled Land & People: A Cultural Geography of Preindustrial New Jersey. It is a little fact and census type data heavy but within those numerical lines there are great primary source anecdotes and summaries on life in New Jersey during the 1660-1776 period. The major summary of the period that I can come to so far is that it was a period of constant movement by populations to newer and newer frontiers for a variety of reasons (religious, economic, liberty seeking). Now the frontiers of the period were what are currently some of the most populated regions of the United States but back then they were remote. Its interest to see this spirit of a highly mobile population still part of the American identity 350 plus years later. Potentially we so little about this period because its major “event” was the diffusion of settler populations throughout a new world.

    One of the other interesting concepts I have come across so far are the assimilation of non-English settlers such as the Dutch, Finns and Swedes into the dominant colonial English culture. This assimilation seems to have taken less then 100 years to complete.

    Another concept was that the many of the rural hinterland less educated colonists were often religious in name only. Contemporary anecdotes tell of travelling ministers going to remote areas and finding people who said they were Quakers or Anglicans but didn’t observe any religious rituals. They only claimed a religious affiliation because they were told that’s what they were by their relatives.

  136. John–

    Re contrasting imperial narratives

    As I finished the last of those five Justice Bao films the other evening, I found myself contemplating the different visions offered by the different imperial narratives. For example, I think that the American narrative, as best embodied during our youthful rising-empire stage, can be summarized by the word Opportunity. The westward expansion, the mythology of the rugged pioneer carving out a live in the wilderness, the ability to make oneself into something from little or nothing. As we matured, this transformed into the business world and financial constructs (robber barons and self-made millionaires), but I’d argue the underlying theme is the same.

    What I saw in these Chinese films was another narrative entirely. It is hard to pin down as a single word, but I’d have to go with something like Rightness or Justice. The sense that there is a right and just character to the universe that applies to the great and the small. That fifth film (allowing for exaggeration in story-telling and propaganda) involved a poor village woman’s suit which resulted in the execution of the Prince Consort. That is, Justice that is a thing beyond the immediate structure of power.

    What would the British empire’s “one word” have been? I don’t have a good offering for that one, but I might take a guess with Order. Perhaps there is a better summary that others could suggest.

    In any event, it is interesting to observe the differences in the stories that each of these narratives tell and the values that they each project. In particular, it is worth observing that our own narrative is only one lens among many and is nor more or less correct than any other.

  137. I mean, it’s really not too hard to trace the outline of secession: it will follow the same well trod outline of medical marijuana, recreational marijuana. same-sex marriage, smoking bans and countless other issues: first California, then other West Coast states, then a New England state or two, then Nev. & Colo, finally, all of New England and the Eastern Seaboard. I mean, if you can trace one issue across the map, you can trace them all, including secession.

  138. @Pogonip: thanks for the confirmation re: propaganda. I’m Canadian but was in the US at the time of Bin Laden’s capture. It was a revelation to me to hear from friends about the celebrations and sense of public relief on American college campuses when the news dropped. The general viewpoint where I’m from is that Bin Laden was just some old guy in a cave somewhere who had had his fifteen minutes of fame and wouldn’t get a second chance. As far as I know there is very little sense that al-Qaeda etc. are actually much of a threat.

    To me one of the strangest and saddest parts of the whole 9/11 revenge drama (apart from a whole country being smashed to bits, that is) is that a generation of Americans grew up living in actual fear of the guy.

  139. @Shane

    Re empire as a trap

    I think it still is, though some nations have done a better job of not travelling the entirety of the traditional trajectory, but hopping off earlier in the decline phase. The real trick would be a young, rising nation, such as the United States in the 1820s, having the opportunity to pursue empire and then choosing not to do so, instead using those abundant resources in a more constrained and limited manner over a much longer period of time. Alas, until human nature becomes more forward-looking than it presently is, I fear that future human civilizations will continue to fall into that trap to one degree or another.

  140. @ Caryn: Lots of good points and ideas for college. I might add foreign universities, which are often much less expensive. Last time I checked, McGill tuition was about $12K US. For a great school in a beautiful city. And you grduate with a Canadian work permit, if that interests you.

    One point: There aren’t really “top tier” Ivies, and they all have vast endowments that will cover pretty much any student needing financial help. The hard part is getting in. And Stanford and Duke are wonderful schools, but they aren’t “Ivies”.

  141. @Lathechuck, thanks for the reply and I agree re: the concept of tipping/tithing! If the only way we feel we are supporting the work of our favorite movements, artists, sages, and mages is via “consumption” we’re missing out on that direct and useful measure. A dollar or two per week would cost around $15 (average paperback), which is more in-disposable income than I can spare currently. I use the new monthly PayPal option and am thrilled that it is roughly equivalent to purchasing 30-40 books per year! Plus, JMG’s books are so densely layered I’m barely able to give proper attention to 3-4 in a year, and some will undoubtedly take a decade or more.

    Of course, supporting publishers helps authors keep that venue open vs. self-publishing, but I like being able to strike a balance that makes sense, and “tips” are a nice way to leverage the value of small amounts. Maybe we have a Medicci or a Gates amongst us but if not, even more reason to consider it. Plus yummy #raspberryjam 😛

  142. @SMJ (if I may)

    Re Trump and Syria/Afghanistan

    One can, of course, assign whatever secretive and nefarious motives one wants to the actions, but the point remains: given a choice between a president who is pulling us out of pointless, wasteful, and foolish foreign wars (apparently, one Donald J. Trump) and a president who entrenches us further in pointless, wasteful, and foolish foreign wars (Bush II, Obama, and–had she been elected–HRC), I’ll take the former, thank you very much. If Trump is the one to begin the retreat from empire and the shutting down of our idiotic meddling in every corner of the globe, I’ll find it to be one of those great ironies of history, but I certainly ain’t gonna argue. And to the extent he actually manages to pull some of these troop withdrawals off, it may very well induce me to vote for him come November 2020, depending on how tone-deaf the Democrats end up being with their candidate selection.

  143. @JMG,
    I’m most of the way through The Blood of the Earth, and I wish I hadn’t drawn attention to the review on Resilience.org. While a decent overview, and friendly to the magical dimension, it seems that he, like many of us, is caught in the dilemma you present; namely, that peak oil HAS no solution, only a range of adaptive–or unadaptive–responses, which is why solutions are not offer.

    I’m going to be unpacking a lot of this book for awhile, especially the first half about the neo-Platonics, politics/media-as-thaumaturgy, how this might mesh with Dion Fortune’s historical “Magical Battle of Britain”, activism/change/revolution as a sort of magical quicksand, etc. I think it would make a great book club entry!

    Thanks for everything, and best time-off wishes!

  144. Shane–re moving to Canada–to live and work there in the 60s required applying for “landed immigrant” status. My mother didn’t stay more than a year with my sister and me, so I don”t know what next steps would have been. All I recall of the process is requirement for chest Xray screen for TB. I was only 12 at the time. My sister and I had to repeat a grade in school because British Columbia believed their schools were a year ahead of American ones.

    David by the Lake – judging from Kipling and other British writers I think the word for the Empire would have been “uplift.” They seem to have thought of themselves as bringing civilization to the barbarians–building railroads, banning suttee, fighting the slave trade, missionaries, etc.

  145. Dear kittenlopez, I hope your sewing projects will be enjoyable and productive. Draping never worked for me, but I have seen absolutely beautiful garments made using that method. And it is FAST. If you need a dress for the office party at 7 o’clock tonight, draping is the way to go. Check out the Greek Chiton for an example of a lovely, feminine and easy to drape garment which can still be worn today.

    Dear ShaneW, I tend to doubt that American Dissolution would play out as peacefully as you imagine. I take your point as to the historical examples, but point out that in earlier times populations were much smaller and on NA there was land for the taking. That is emphatically not the case today. I also doubt that New England would opt to go it alone unless united with a Canadian province, but I can’t in my wildest imaginings believe that New Englanders would ever agree to become part of the Commonwealth. Now the Pacific Northwest, which alone of all major regions of the present day USA, does have defensible borders, I think likely would go its own way without California. What with its pro Big Ag voting habits and the wanton killings of honeybees in the tens of thousands, the Hispanic population in the PNW is making itself unwelcome, or so I gather. Folks all over the country would wake up to find that they don’t get to own income producing property on the other coast and that they don’t get to retire wherever they feel like and that they need a passport to visit the Grand Canyon. I rather think that those kinds of considerations–OMG, we are going to loose money!!–would tend to keep the USA together as a federation of sovereign states. And, my alter ego, Mme Richelieu asserts that the FIRST order of business for a new country, unless it is separated from hostile powers by large oceans or deserts, is to establish it’s sovereignty in no uncertain terms. Besides, Shane, if you want secession then you and other likeminded Southerners need to take the first steps yourself. Why expect Californians to do your dirty work?

    About former Congressman O’Rourke: He received a lot of money from small donors and progressive organizations across the country and he spent a lot of it on what used to be called party building infrastructure, to the benefit of more than one Democratic congressional candidate in Texas. Now, some may recall that after flaming out, or rather being pushed out, during the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primary, then Gov. Howard Dean ran for the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party and won. His tenure, memorable for his 50 state strategy, was little less than a nightmare for the party leadership and its sponsors. There are Democrats still in the Senate who were beneficiaries of that 50 state strategy, such as Tester of Montana, a continuing embarrassment to the leadership–only member if I remember right of the Banking Committee who voted against Wall Street bailout in 2009. As a working organic farmer, Tester is naturally not allowed anywhere near agriculture committees or policy. O’Rourke, who is still young, in political terms, and inexperienced and has lived through the heady experience of being a sort of political rock star, is having National Ticket!! dangled in front of him in order to distract him from thoughts of I could run the DNC better than that corporatist lump they have now.

  146. Hello JMG,

    A restful and restorative month off to you!

    JMG and Clay – I hope you are right. I’ll know there’s been a real shift in the real estate market when my partner and I can actually afford to buy a home of our own near enough to our jobs to NOT require a dreadful highway trek daily or unreasonably long public transit commute! (I work 6 day weeks and will not do more than an hour each way, period.) I’ve wanted to purchase a modest home for a long time now, and have been feeling seriously discouraged about it. Still, I’ve been educating myself and working hard at eliminating my debt. I feel a little more hopeful, and am eagerly waiting to see what comes…

    My goodness I might just have to pick up those Weird of Hali books. I don’t read a lot of fiction for pleasure, but the discussions here & on the other blog really have me interested. The described POV is really appealing.

    Bonnie

  147. Caryn Banker (and Ashara, and others) – While I tend to agree that conservative people tend to be “nice in person, if supporting harsh social policy”, while liberals are more the opposite, I think there are reasons for that other than defects of character.. Since conservative political views are associated with rural areas (and so on), what we think of as conservative/liberal attitudes may be even more so rural/urban attitudes. Rural people tend to depend on each other more as they contend against the forces of nature, while the problems of urban people are caused by other urban people.

    Secondly, consider what different groups worry about. Conservatives may worry about big slow social trends (“changing way of life”), but no individual actually in their presence is going to realize their fears. “Gays” might be “sinful”, but the presence of a gay relative at the picnic isn’t going to hurt them. “Love the sinner”, is easy enough when the sinner doesn’t threaten you personally. On the other hand, a liberal who is worried about “walking while black”, is anxious for his own safety right this minute, and that anxiety can be sensed, but not understood, by those around who don’t share it.

    Third, if you’re a Climate Change Activist, for example, you probably believe that everyone you meet is either “on your team”, or personally contributing to your anxiety. The Others must be alerted to the danger! On the other hand, if you don’t think that climate change is a big deal (anthropogenic or not), you’re not going to raise an eyebrow at your neighbor’s profligate use of fossil fuels. “If he can afford it, why interfere?” You can be nice to everyone. It’s going to be OK. (Isn’t it?)

  148. For David, by the lake and everyone else discussing secession.

    Have you read Joel Garreau’s book ‘The Nine Nations of North America’? He wrote this in 1982 and it still feels dead on about how North America would divide itself up if it broke apart.

    A much more recent book that has a very similar map is ‘American Nations: a History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America’ by Colin Woodard. He published his book in 2012 and I was amazed at how closely his map aligned with Joel Garreau’s.

    In addition to the various larger new nations, they assume that the Mormons will hold ‘Deseret’ and the far north Inuit tribes will rebound.

    Teresa from Hershey

  149. @Caryn: Ha! I’m a liberal introvert myself and my instant reaction was basically: “Of course! Why would you want it any other way?” Though I suppose I’m moderate in that I’m not that interested in saving the world or loving everyone, I just want to have the systems in place let people save themselves if they want to, and otherwise don’t much care about them. But re: individuals…yeah, I generally take the view that I have all the social obligations I want and plenty of books to read, and while I like it when I do make new friends, it’s a slow and cautious process with a set time and place in ninety percent of cases, and I like it that way. (The other ten percent involves, basically, Theoretical Tom Hiddleston or similar. :P)

    I’ve said before: I’m only too glad to support my community in a number of manners, just as long as I in no way have to unexpectedly talk to strangers.

  150. My predictions, such as they are (take them with a grain of salt; I’m new at this): These are mostly from ingress analysis.

    – There will be some development that profoundly shakes the Internet, and likely Amazon in particular. The Saturn/Pluto/South Node conjunction that hits in 2019 occurs almost on the exact degree as the Uranus/Neptune 1993-94 conjunction, and that U/N conjunction occurred more or less right on Jeff Bezos’s midheaven.

    – The government shutdown is not resolved until February.

    – Speculative investments are shaky throughout the year (both Aries and Libra ingresses have the S/P/SN stellium in the fifth house). The recently-started bear market may continue, but we don’t tip over into full recession in 2019.

    – There will be a flare-up of some kind in the Arabian Peninsula sometime during the spring (S/P/SN stellium in the 1st house for both Riyadh and Tehran, both Capricorn ascendant) that may lead to outright war during the summer (Cancer ingress still has stellium in 1st, but now adds Mars in the 7th). Because Mars is conjunct Mercury, I suspect a strong cyberspace component to any such war.

    – China will make some big and unexpected power move in the first half of the astrological year. It will turn out well for them, at least as seen on the world stage (Aries ingress in the 1st house, Jupiter conjunct Beijing’s midheaven)

  151. A blessed Yultide season to you.
    I wanted to comment on your last post, but I’m not done reading all the comments yet. Actually, the last couple of posts. I suppose and end-of-year wrap-up is appropriate, actually. I am currently visiting family on Denman Is. BC, about halfway along the East side of Vancouver Is. Just adjacent is Hornby Is. The geology is fascinating, as is the natural environment.

    It is an interesting community, in a true sense of the word. The first thing I observed is that it will never be a suburban enclave, even for nearby Comox, as it is too inaccessible. It is two things: a weekend getaway for the well-to-do Vancouverites, who flood in to their summer houses for a couple of weekends when the weather is nice, and a mix of people who live here full time from PhD-types writing their books and papers, gorgeous full-time homes for wealthy people, to subsistance families living in minimal conditions off their own gardens. On the road within 5 minutes off the ferry, you can see expensive summer homes, well-built houses, lovingly-maintained century houses, and increasing degrees of needs-repair dilapidation due to time and wet conditions to buildings wth plastic-sheeting for windows and jerry-rigged repairs with scrap wood. There are lots of handy-types, artists and artisans, to highly educated. All the solar PV panels and water heaters face south. There is no environmental posturing, just different degrees of awareness of what truly low-carbon living means. My family are, if not quite walking the walk, at least stepping down the stairs on their 12-acre farm. A plentiful garden, fruit trees, chickens provides a good part of their diet, with plans to grow much more. They are unfazed by the increasing electrical outages, putting another log into the fireplace for light and heat. Internet access and electronic media are restricted to one single workshop/office in an outbuilding.

    They host and help run a nature school on Mondays, attended by about 20 children ages 6 to 12. The curriculum involves spending time quietly sitting in the forest and observing, taking in the feel of the land and observing changes over the seasons. At first, the children would only be able to spend a few minutes alone, but as they come along, they spend up to an hour, just soaking in the life. Then they learn about the plants and animals they observed sitting there. They come from all economic backgrounds and learn woodcrafts similar to that of the boy scouts until the 1960s. The children treat their scrapes by crushing and applying wild yarrow.

    This is common around the island, despite the majority of children wanting to play with typical plastic toys and i-thingys, the parents insist they spend more time running around than sitting around.

    There is still the unreality of life with vast energy on tap, but it’s much, much more aware of the unsustainability of that world. I had a lovely chat with a woman who has just finished her PhD on exactly that topic, and she uses the term ‘sustainable development’ as the term was originally defined by the Brundtland Report. She had some fascinating things to say about the received wisdom that promoting arts and culture does not, in fact, improve the quality of a community, it polarizes it economically over time, as the well-to-do support ‘the arts’ which turns out to pool the wealth within the small population of artists & intelligentsia while the poorer labouring class does not get any significant economic splash from the money being tossed around, which relates to your recent postings on modern art and ecology movement.

    The faces here all seem to have acquired a curious resemblance — quite aside from the uniformly caucasian ethnicity — I think it’s the similarity of the general expressions on their faces, it made me recall your recent essay in which you discuss how land shapes people. They have a west-coast look about them. Lots of natural-coloured hand-knit wool, some of it produced locally. There is a lot of ‘fashionable environmental activism’ of the kind that makes me think of the Croce song “The Junk-food Junkie.” But there is also a lot of living-close-to-nature of a genuine kind which accepts a much lower standard of living that bodes well for the future, in fact, exactly the kind of eco-technic future you recommend. A goodly number of people here honestly expect to have to give up their internet &c., and are preparing for just such a future, as comfortable as possible with limited resources.

    Finally, forgive me if I ramble now, but I must mention that your writings about history, have helped me to realize why three particular eras of history fascinate me, viz., the migration/viking era of Europe (from the 5th to 11th Centuries), Renaissance Europe from 1400 to 1600ish, and the latter part of the 19th Century to about 1950. What these periods have in common is these are times of change: cultural, political, social, economic, religious, which then settle down to periods of stability (continual wars notwithstanding; these did not affect social or political structures between these ages). We, however, still live with the economic effects and theories of the hockey-stick growth in industrial output that shot up after the 1880s and the political long shadow of the Great War of 1914-1918 that overturned and eliminated so many ancient structures (a few monarchs remain here and there as inspiring, but powerless figureheads; the new ‘kings’ now call themselves “President” and hold rigged “elections”). You have also successfully argued that this was the characteristic of a civilization that hits its peak and plateau and we are now experiencing the start of the long decline, even though this is by any measure the most peaceful time in human existence (i.e. the probability of a violent death for the median population of the globe has never been lower), even as technologists continue to produce astounding new technologies (not just the i-thingys and electonics), and even as honest scientists find fascinating new discoveries (e.g. exoplanets and God-particles). They are the last gasp of our civilization and will not usher in the expected golden age of universal leisure as imagined by Heinlein’s heirs.

    As for your assessment of the unpredictability of history, I’d encourage people to look into the events of any of the weeks in May or early June 1914 and realize there was absolutely no inkling of the black-swan event of the 28th of June or, in the few weeks after, of the disastrous effects of the decision of the supremely arrogant Austrian High Command on the 27th of July, and even the rest of that week, no one foresaw what would happen after the 4th of August. Historians sometimes like to pretend it was inevitable and foreseeable, but it was not. Of course there were some who correctly predicted war, but they are only important in aftermath, when proven correct. There are a thousand other predictions which were equally likely, but which did not come to pass. Your warning about the immediate future is very well taken, since there are people predicting all sorts of things and there is a high probability that someone will be absolutely correct… in hindsight.

    Enjoy your break.

  152. I was given a copy of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1988 novel Gold Coast for Yule. At first I thought is was a contemporary “angst in the OC” work, until I ran across a few things that didn’t quite fit. I’m sure very little has changed in Southern California in the past 30 years, except – the viewpoint character, while eking out an existence with 2 part-time jobs supplemented by hitting the family dinner table, can still afford an apartment, however low-end, has no student loans to worry about, does not end up in prison for the next 30 years for a spree of destruction near the end, and there are no nasty downsides to the many drugs he takes. Aha! Utopia!

    His cluelessness about how one goes about “resistance” (talking to his own crowd and making futile, if destructive gestures) still exists, alas.

    Anyway, well worth a reread for students of the pace of change vs ongoing issues. If you can stand the leading character!

  153. And a Happy New Year to you all! Now about to get After Progress on Kindle if it’s out in ebook form.

  154. I want to second the recommendation for “The Blood of the Earth” for book club down the road. If Im not mistaken, we have quite a bit of time left on the Cos Doc, and Im not sure what you have in the queue after that, but I’ve been wanting to read that one carefully for a while. Something to consider anyway.

  155. @Nastarana:

    Dear ShaneW, I tend to doubt that American Dissolution would play out as peacefully as you imagine.

    Seconded. I like Shane’s contributions and his theories are thought-provoking, but I think it’s the dizzying height of optimism to imagine a peaceful dissolution at this point.

    I also doubt that New England would opt to go it alone unless united with a Canadian province, but I can’t in my wildest imaginings believe that New Englanders would ever agree to become part of the Commonwealth.

    I find it interesting and odd that you phrase it this way instead of the other way around – why would it be US states joining the Commonwealth? Many Americans do not grasp that Canadians are essentially overgrown children who take the USA and the Pax Americana utterly for granted, and in the event of an American breakup, Canadians would absolutely PANIC at the forced reality that now they are going to have to bear some adult responsibilities for themselves.

    Shane mentions the intriguing historical tidbit about Nova Scotia nearly joining the Revolution – as a native Nova Scotian, I wish that that had happened, but in any event my point is that I believe Canadian provinces would beg and clamour to join a rump USA rather than be forced to fend for themselves. I don’t see it as a question of New England joining the Commonwealth but of several Canadian provinces begging to join New England.

  156. Tripp, one thing a lot of people on the leftward end of things don’t realize is that a lot of conservative Christians these days have gotten deep into herbal medicine — “God’s medicine,” they tend to say, as distinct from the purely human medicine that comes out of pharmaceutical companies. A working class slant on your marketing and the careful avoidance of anything that looks Pagan will make products very appealing to that market segment; it also helps that you’ve got a complete listing of ingredients on the package!

    Pretentious, so noted! We’ll see how it turns out.

    Scotlyn, I read the Sontag essay also, quite a few years ago, and thought it was profoundly insightful. I’ll look forward to the results of your ruminations!

    Averagejoe, many thanks! There are five more on the way, if that’s any consolation — oh, and three unconnected novels set in the same fictive cosmos, and a bunch of short stories (two already published, another in press, more in the works) that feature Jenny as occult expert and Owen as her Dr. Watson. (Those’ll be a book when there’s enough of them — the head factotum at Founders House has expressed serious eagerness for that.)

    Robert, fascinating. No, I didn’t know about that either.

    Scotlyn, I wonder if that’s more true on your side of the pond than on ours. There are some intrusive and hyperbureaucratic corporations over here, but they tend to face lively competition, and governments here seem to worry less about throwing people out of work.

    Mark, America’s been very sheltered these last fifty years or so, and the sense that history can’t really affect us is very widespread as a result. When that gets definitively disproven, a lot of people are going to be thoroughly shell-shocked for a while.

    Chris, I still get the song from Hair playing in my head when I think of the Age of Aquarius, if that’s any consolation. 😉

    SMJ, I doubt it. The latest news is that the Syrian army is moving into Kurdish cities as the US withdraws from them.

    Richard, I like the screenplay idea! I hope it gets snapped up and produced.

    David, oh, I know. As I’ve noted, I think secession is still a definite possibility, but I’m hoping that a sufficiently relaxed federalism will make it unnecessary.

    Phil, I disagree — it’s not just that there’s this bigger problem to which colleges haven’t contributed. The academic industry these days functions largely as a sales force pushing predatory loans on a vulnerable population using deceptive advertising. For those who have plenty of money — and if you had enough left over each month to save up for a college education, you’re doing quite well compared to the average American — it’s an option, possibly useful, possibly not — there’s also a lot of highly substandard instruction to be found in universities these days. For most people, it’s a really bad idea, and will continue to be a really bad idea until universities lower their fees to a reasonable level.

    Caryn, thanks for this. The fact remains that for a lot of young people — probably a large majority at this point — apprenticeships or other non-academic training is the better option. Right now in the US we have a massive oversupply of people with college degrees and a massive undersupply of people with hands-on skills. Nor is it necessarily a good idea to leave so much in the way of trade education in the hands of an academic industry that, these days, too often neglects education for political posturing.

    Matthias, thanks for this. Of course they don’t want to talk about it; too many people realize that they benefit from it.

    Sylvia, well, there you are. The universe isn’t under any compulsion to give you the answers you want, you know!

    Kitten, practically a poem! Don’t worry, I’ll put my feet up a good deal over the next month, though I also have some writing projects I need to finish.

    Tripp, I’ll look forward to hearing your first hit. On a vinyl 45 rpm record, naturally!

    Garrett, many thanks for this. Can you recommend any online resources on the history of the central New Jersey coast? I’ve got a novel set in a fictional town there, and while I did my best to make it work, any help you can offer would be gratefully received.

    David, excellent. A case could be made that having different narratives of hegemony over time helps keep thigns from getting too wildly unbalanced.

    Kris, hmm! Doing it as a book club would be, as the kids say nowadays, “meta” — that book started out, after all, as a series of posts on The Archdruid Report. But I’ll consider it when the Cos.Doc. begins winding down.

    Bonnie, glad to hear it. I’ve seen stories about slumping real estate prices in a lot of formerly overheated markets, so I hope that continues and you and your partner can snap up a suitable home. As for The Weird of Hali, well, it’s — weird, I suppose is the only word for it. I don’t like a great deal of fiction these days either, for whatever that’s worth.

    Barrigan, so noted! Those seem plausible enough, but of course we’ll see.

    Renaissance, thanks for this. I’ve seen similar things on some of the smaller islands in Puget Sound. There’s a long road ahead, but the process by which the current inhabitants of North America will become indigenous has gotten under way….

    Patricia, weird. In 1988 the student loan thing wasn’t yet the disaster it later became — I spent two years at university finishing my BA in 1991-3 and left without taking out a single loan — but the rest of it seems pretty improbable. I hope you enjoy After Progress!

    Tripp, we’ve got about two and a half years to go before the Cos.Doc. is finished, so there’ll be plenty of time to sort out what the next one will be.

  157. RE: “it’s also quite common for conditions to improve significantly for the poor and the working classes while they decline drastically for those who are used to living higher on the hog”

    Here’s a headline i literally read hours before coming here :
    “In Some Bay Area Counties, College Grads Have Higher Unemployment Than Highschool Grads.”
    (in a further coincidence, they single out my county as having the highest instance of this phenomenon in the bay!)

    https://news.slashdot.org/story/18/12/27/1958254/in-some-bay-area-counties-college-grads-have-higher-unemployment

  158. Archdruid and Company,

    Okay, so here are my predictions.

    Over all the global scene will be pretty much the same.

    1) The global refugee crisis, currently at way above 60 million, will continue to rise and probably be slightly above 100 million by 2020. Keeping in track with UN estimates, but also going slightly above because the world is going to crap a lot faster than anyone expected.

    2) People will continue to celebrate small and meaningless victories over pollution, like the prototype garbage scoop that is currently operating over the pacific garbage patch. Meanwhile another part of the press will continue to deride such small innovations, so overall the public will grow dull to any such events.

    3) The world will continue to make big noise about climate change and the contraction of the global biosphere, but not much will actually be done.

    4) China will continue it’s steady advance to be the next hegemony, and Africa will continue to lose ground.

    5) The flight from the dollar will continue, and be joined by europe.

    6) Global trade will start to reshape away from the US.

    In India…

    1) The 2019 elections will prove a major ruckus, as the congress party attempts to stage a major comeback on the national scene and the BJP attempts to hold the center. The BJP will win, but by a small enough margin that they will be forced to form alliances.

    2) The Hindu revival will continue apace, with increasing awareness that cleaning the rivers and healing the land are part of the Dharma of every individual.

    3) Rajive Malothra’s Muslim and Christian Swadesh movements (the recognition of nationalism among the other religions) will continue to grow quietly in the background.

    4) The Monsoons will continue to be deficit, but the met will quietly make up numbers to support business as usual.

    5) The BJP’s moves to clean the Ganges river will continue to pay dividends as the river ecosystem slowly revives.

    6) India’s grand efforts to reassert itself in its near abroad will pause for the national elections, once again revealing one of the major flaws of the democratic process.

    In the US…

    1) The election season will begin with Biden announcing himself as a candidate for president, so will cory booker, and probably at least two over establishments dou*hes.

    2) The seeds of a new federalist party will be planted, probably somewhere in the fertile lands of the northern midwest. 😉

    3) my cats will finally get along and become buddies.

    4) The blue collar revival will continue and the pay rates of trade labor will rise.

    5) Trump’s antics will make it harder for him to win reelection in 2020, since tactics have been studied by the establishment. However he will gain a narrow win.

    6) More storms, more displacement, more people never to recover.

  159. It’s good to hear that there are more jobs today for working class people in the US. At the same time, one wonders that everyone in the US has not been having a decent life in the past decades (economically and otherwise) although the US as a whole has such a large ecological footprint compared to most of the world, so that 4-5 Earths would be needed if the whole world were to have the same–and that’s without leaving any resources for wildlife. This proves one thing at least: the so-called trickle-down effect does not work.

  160. ” Not sure if I deserve it, as I did a lot of driving last year … 😉” – Aron Blue

    The simple fact that you state it this way, that your driving habits vary from year to year in the first place, is plenty of evidence in my view to assume that you fall well below average in this regard!

    As soon as I get to a solid internet connection that can handle streaming video I’ll check out your link. Cant wait! Loved the last one you sent me.

  161. Methylethyl,

    That’s quite the story! Wow. Thanks for reminding us about these all too quickly forgotten disasters and the real people who simply soldier on in their aftermath.

    BTW, as something of a chemistry nerd myself, I love your username.

  162. JMG,
    Oh, a vinyl 45 would be the way to go!! Natch. I could even drive over to Nashville and watch them stamp it.

    Good news! My paternal grandparents have tentatively offered to pay for the construction of a proper workshop for Small Batch Garden on our property. We’ve basically been running our business out of a Hoosier cupboard in our 54 s.f. dining room for the last 7 years…

    We’re currently in the “yes, please, and thank you” phase of the negotiations.

    And one final addendum. My prediction for January is a massive uptick in Magic Monday readership! (Autocorrect tried to make “uptick” into “prick” there…glad I caught that;)

  163. Hi Kittenlopez

    “TRUE DEFIANCE to me is being free while being in prison.” For you, Kitten, even though our host won’t appreciate it, here is a short video’d talk by Sunny Jacobs, who was wrongly convicted and who spent years on death row before being pardoned. On discovering freedom in prison. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeyKRl60szQ

  164. Hello David by the Lake. Your meditations on youthful vigour themes in young cultures are most interesting. I wonder, though, if the key word for youthful Britain, might have been LIGHT. As in “enlightenment” and the bringing of the “light” of civilisation and knowledge and liberal values into [what it construed as] the dark and savage places of the rest of the world.

  165. @Shane: I don’t doubt that the majority of rural Americans are decent people. A lot of them probably don’t care about politics at all, almost half the eligible voting population didn’t even bother to vote in the last election. And I’m sure even a lot of Trump voters had perfectly valid reasons for their decision. They thought he would get their jobs back, they thought he would end our involvement in foreign conflicts, they thought he’d fight the corruption of the neocon/neolib establishment.

    But at least a significant minority must be supporting all these oppressive Culture War policy proposals, because why else would Red Tribe politicians keep pursuing those goals? Most politicians only care about two things: what their corporate sponsors want in exchange for money, and what their constituents want in exchange for votes. I’m asking in all earnestness here, why would they take such a hardline stance against abortion and birth control and gay marriage and trans rights if that wasn’t what a good number of their constituents were pushing for?

    And for what it’s worth, I’ve talked to LGBT people in conservative areas and I’ve heard very mixed things. Some of them are happy with their communities and say that almost everyone is respectful and tolerant, some of them say that they’re living in a repressive hellhole and can’t wait to leave. Maybe it varies from region to region, state to state, even town to town. I don’t know. But again, it’s not the communities or the people that I have a problem with. It’s their politicians and the regressive policies that they’re forcing on the rest of the country, and the sociocultural conditions that cause them to support those regressive policies.

  166. @Lathechuck: And yet, Irish and Italian and Jewish immigrants all assimilated into American culture just fine, and stopped having large families after the first generation. Why wouldn’t the same thing happen with the ethnic groups that are currently immigrating here?

    @Onething: I really don’t get the argument that “liberals only claim to like immigrants because you don’t have to deal with them, except as your domestic servants.” Most middle-class urban liberals can’t afford to hire domestic servants, and the progressive millennials certainly can’t. And people living in large cities are exposed to immigrants all the time, it’s typically the more rural and conservative Americans who lack interaction with them. Growing up in the suburbs of a major city, most of the immigrants I knew were just normal hard-working middle-class Americans trying to make a living and provide a better future for their children, just like everyone else. Also, immigrants assimilate into American culture better than you think. Slightly over 50% of Muslim Americans believe that homosexuality should be considered socially acceptable, which is somewhat less than Catholics (65%), Mainline Protestants (75%), or non-religious Americans (80%), but on par with Black Protestants (50%), and notably more than Evangelical Protestants (35%). Who’s failing to assimilate again?

    @David: Hell, part of me wishes the U.S. would split apart, then I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about how my own rights are perpetually at risk of being stripped away by some politicians from halfway across the country. But then the Red states would be free to push even more oppressive anti-women and anti-LGBT laws on their own populace without any real resistance. How many states would make abortion and gay marriage illegal again? How many states would pass religious exemption laws that would make it legal for landlords, employers, healthcare providers, and civil services to discriminate against LGBT people?

    @NomadicBeer: The government and the major corporations use vastly more energy than the urban liberal middle-class or the rural conservative poor, and the actions of those institutions are determined by government policy. So it doesn’t matter that much if a Democrat is a hypocrite or if a Republican is actually leaving 100x less of a carbon footprint, because government policy affects global energy usage on a vastly larger scale. More broadly, policy affects everything to a greater degree than personal habits. A conservative could be perfectly friendly and polite and generous toward the gay married couple next door, but if he supports outlawing gay marriage, that’s a policy that’s going to have a considerably greater impact on their lives than anything he personally does for them.

    @JMG: In the grand scheme of things, I’m sure you’re right, but it’s hard to take such a detached stance from current affairs when they have a direct effect on your day to day life!

  167. @Nastarana,
    I don’t know what to say. It’s always hard to discuss secession b/c irrational patriotism gets in the way. The secessionists in California have reached out to those in the rest of the states for the “consent to secede” effort, in keeping w/Texas v White. In honoring my ancestors, I don’t see why I shouldn’t help them. They rightly see that they’re not getting represented or having their voices heard in the current setup.

  168. I wrote this out earlier but the internet seems to have eaten my comment. Feel free to delete if this is a double post (ish).

    Anyway, re: moral grandstanding … the example I thought of was the signs that say “science is real, black lives matter, no matter where you’re from we’re glad you’re our neighbor” etc. Those are really popular in wealthy white liberal neighborhoods, whose residents would never actually be caught living in a neighborhood with lots of black or Hispanic residents. They ascribe a level of sainthood to folks with a minority status, which they can do because they’ve never had to really interact with them.

    I grew up in a largely Hispanic and black neighborhood, my grandpa was Mexican, and I currently work with folks who have disabilities. Actually living with and interacting with others takes the veneer of sainthood away real quickly!

  169. Oh, and sadly I haven’t managed to find any polytheist religious services near me. I have found a lot of anthropology books at the used bookstores … plus a first American edition of Toynbee’s a Study of History … so that will occupy me for a bit.

    I’d also like to ask you and the community here for resources for learning more about Tarot. I want to know more about the purpose of it … Can someone recommend a good book? (To, um, get me through the next month.)

  170. @Nastarana,
    IDK why the idea of peaceful secession is so hard to wrap one’s head around. Empire destruction begins at home. Look at the example of the Irish Free State–it was totally shocking when a colony the British had exploited with impunity for hundreds of years left Great Britain, yet conflict was pretty much confined to Northern Ireland. Brexit will probably lead to the peaceful secession of Scotland and the reunification of Ireland. Besides, financial problems like default, etc. await the US regardless of secession. As for who gets the rump USA when all is said and done, I vote for the Great Lakes area, the Heartland–it’s considered to be all-American and the soul of America. I think everyone else will eventually leave, leaving them w/the historical title and claim.

  171. One thing I find interesting is that for a country founded on “Manifest Destiny”, the proto-nation sure grew awfully slowly during colonial times. I mean, from 1607, 1620 on up until the Revolution, they pretty much just stayed in the original 13 colonies. KY was just being settled during the Revolution, as was Tenn. So why was expansion so slow or non-existent during that long period?

  172. Beto: apparently, a schism is developing between Berniecrats and Beto. The Berniecrats are suspicious of Beto and feel he is not progressive enough. Personally, I feel Bernie is too old and needs to find someone younger. Trump is too old, and may very well die during his second term.
    RE: changes in the economy. JMG, there’s a well-known trend of “hipsterification/Californication” going on in the Midwest and South as hipsters flee high cost, coastal areas. The flood of money and people is palpable and transforming the area the same way your native Washington was transformed. If the changes Trump has started w/the economy to benefit the working class continue, how do you see this “hipsterification/Californication” of the South and Midwest playing out? Will it just be a flash in the pan as the coasts collapse economically and the working class surges, or does it continue b/c California and other coastal areas are such basketcases?

  173. @Mattias Gralle,
    of course. The thing you must understand about the American left is that it always picks the losing side and snatches defeat from the mouth of victory, and then piously virtue signals about it. So it was against American imperialism, globalization, and “blood for oil” when the US was at its zenith and efforts against the empire were quixotic. Now that the empire is failing, the left switches sides and supports the failing empire and bleats “USA! USA! USA!” like a 1980s Republican. Par for the course.

  174. What’s so odd to me is seeing how much trouble Britain and Canada are having making the transition to a post-American world. I mean, for countries that were so daft and calculating about the British decline and hand off to the US, you’d think they’d see this coming from a mile away and have this thing down pat.

  175. At least one inkling” of the events of 1914 about to come down. Jung famously had a prophetic dream about Europe being drenched in blood before it actually happened.

    JMG – re mental soundtracks, the end of Jenny’s trip to the festival inevitably evoked the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

    And Thursday a large chunk of the West was without either internet or cell phone service, though you could make landline-to-landline calls here in Albuquerque. Very instructive and enlightening. I waited until Friday’s newspaper to find out what had actually happened. NPR’s newscaster was sounding very upset about at 5-4 Supreme Court decision (in favor of the liberal position I think, but close), and an AM station I picked up seemed to waver between “local” and “Y2K 18 years later.”

    Which I mentioned to a friend I check in with every morning (the old ladies’ ‘are you still alive’ network) and she said scornfully “One of those right-wing talk show stations.” What that had to do with a widespread tech failure, I have No Clue, but that but of duckspeak seemed to settle the case for the station being an unreliable reporter without any facts to back it up. Including whether or not that’s what the AM station was! Gaaah!

  176. JMG – do you want me to mail you the paperback of Gold Coast? Better than putting it out on the ASFS* giveaway table for a couple of our hoarders to take and leave in their great pile of unread books.

    Albuquerque Science Fiction Society.

  177. With regards to hands-on skills, I distinctly remember a period in the UK in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s when the middle classes realised that there was a dearth of tradesmen, and so there was a brief craze of people leaving jobs in the City of London to become plumbers, or solicitors retraining to become electricians in order to earn more money.

    This was quickly ended when Tony Blair’s government permitted immediate immigration from the EU accession countries, and so the UK was then deluged by the famous Polish plumbers and Romanian builders and the like. The brief craze of the English middle classes going to night classes in order to learn a trade was then swiftly memory-holed, and has now been largely forgotten.

    But when the conditions are right, it can be remarkable how quickly people embrace manual skills.

  178. IDK how citizenship works for a seceding state. I mean, people born in Ireland before partition qualified for British citizenship/passports anytime they wished b/c they were born in the British empire at birth. To this day, people in Northern Ireland qualify for Irish passports, no questions asked (not sure about citizenship) Anyone born in pre-secession California or any other seceding state would have US citizenship b/c they were born in the US as it existed at that time.

  179. “Folks all over the country would wake up to find that they don’t get to own income producing property on the other coast and that they don’t get to retire wherever they feel like and that they need a passport to visit the Grand Canyon.”
    Those are the concerns of the well-to-do, and their concerns mean considerably less nowadays. It’s the working class poor in the driver’s seat now.

  180. RE: California secession.
    It’s always the side that isn’t represented that wants to secede. Our system is set up so that “team blue” is structurally disenfranchised. “Team red” seems to be getting what it wants. Per Texas v White, unilateral secession is not legal, therefore, California and “team blue” need our consent, which we’re more than willing to give. Secession is a cooperative effort 🙂

  181. Having no predictions of my own to offer or assess, I’ll simply say, JMG, that I’ve been reading your stuff for a long time now, and I think you’re on fire lately. I hope you have an enjoyable and fruitful break.

  182. Dear Matthew T, you and other Canadians who post here are breaking my heart. I, and, I suppose, other Americans have always told ourselves that while we might have become corrupted with dreams of global hegemony and insane wealth and luxury, you Canadians at least got it right. . We might be a pack of spoiled rich kids but you hardier and more virtuous sorts managed to build a nation which combined comfort for all with good government. sigh. Another illusion gone.

    As for New England, it has very little left in the way of natural resources. The forests are mostly gone as are the fisheries. An independent New England will badly need allies and will, I think. look to Canada and the North Atlantic to find them.

    I do expect that, in the event of Dissolution, the states and provinces around the Great Lakes will join, if only to protect that wondrous resource from foreign predation.

    What a lot of proponents of secession refuse to understand is that no neo-American nation is going to be anything like a multicultural paradise with open borders.

    Dear Berrigan, I agree that the shutdown will last till Feb. What do you think are be the prospects of Trump getting his wall?

  183. I mean, I just don’t know what the economic changes mean for Californication of the South and Midwest, and if it continues such that it destroys the South and Midwest as it did JMG’s native Washington. We know that California is overpopulated and people must leave, but is it less of a cultural disruption if they come as “reverse Okies”, destitute, w/everything stuffed in a car, than if they come flush w/cash from selling their overvalued home, with big ideas of how to “improve” the community? IDK…

  184. @Pat M,
    I was paying $600/mo. to rent a room in a poorly constructed condo w/no heat and air in Long Beach when I left in ’04, and thought I was lucky, and I’m sure that it hasn’t gotten any better since I left…

  185. It’s not that I think secession will be peaceful, I just don’t think it will end up in the “us vs. them” civil war that we saw last time around. Yes, there will be violence and insurgencies b/c what Americans expect and what they’ll get don’t match, but that will be localized and w/in proto-nations, it won’t be “proto-nation A” fighting “proto-nation B” over a strip of land or some issue. Northern Ireland might be a good example of what we could expect in certain areas, but both Ireland and Britain continued to largely function, and so will the proto-nations of the US, save California.

  186. Woot! My favorite time of year – predictions. I wish I could comment on my last years predictions but I neglected to post them (drat). So I will make my predictions this year and look back in late 2019 to see how I did.

    1) The markets and the economy will be all over the map. We may technically slip into recession in 2019 but the real downturn will likely not come until early 2020

    2) Trump will not be driven from office. He may not even be impeached.

    3) Biden, Corker, Harris, Warren and a number of lesser known democrats will throw their hats in the ring for 2020. Biden will be the front runner through 2019. Clinton and Sanders will not announce (but Clinton may get into the race very late if there is chaos among the democrats).

    4) And now the best part – the dark horse prediction. A new social media/patreon style platform will be launched by a major figure on the dissident right. It will actually gain traction and be seen as threat by both the mainstream media and the new social media.

    AV

  187. It’s funny, but I get a lot more haughty condescension from the hipster class than I ever got from the aristocratic gentry class, and the aristocratic gentry class here back in the day inspired way more admiration, respect, and deference from the hoi polloi than the hipster class ever will…

  188. @Nastarana,
    once the Confederacy is firmly established, the military will go door to door demanding an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. Anyone unwilling to swear one will be escorted across the Ohio River.

  189. @Pretentious_username

    I find your prediction that Trump won’t be reelected in 2020 a bit strange. I buy the reasoning, of course: a recession late in the first term is a good predictor that the sitting president won’t be reelected.

    However, the Michael comments I’ve seen say that major changes to address the many real problems we have won’t really start until 2025 or so. Of course, that could mean that whoever is elected in 2020 will continue to pursue programs that propitiate cis base and have little to no relevance to solving real problems, let alone actually solving the problems they claim to address. They may be different programs, of course.

    @Robert Mathiesen
    Re: quitrent

    Property taxes. If you don’t pay your property taxes for long enough, the government can confiscate your land and sell it to pay back taxes. I don’t see any difference in practice between that and “the government owns your land.” The biggest difference is between the Crown in England and county governments in the US. The federal government doesn’t assess property taxes, and I don’t believe that most states do either.

  190. To me, it’s a matter of semantics about who secedes from whom. Doesn’t really matter, so long as the seceding gets done. FWIW, as I’ve said, I think the Great Lakes area gets left holding the bag we call the United States, if for no other reason than it have the least developed regional identity. Of course, I differ from JMG about the value of the US–my go to is Morris Berman’s Why America Failed in which he argues that the US was formed strictly around capitalism, “hustling”, as he calls it, and that when anything interfered w/capitalism, under the bus it went. Of course, capitalism–“hustling” is not enough of a reason for a nation, which is why the US failed.

  191. @Matthew T,
    what’s interesting to me is that Canadians idealism and utopianism get in the way of actually enjoying their country. As any American expat, and they will readily count off the ways that life is better in Canada, and a lot of those are intangibles not necessarily tied to income: social trust and social capital: do you know your neighbours? Do you have friends? Do you have people you can count on? This kind of social capital is not necessarily tied to income and exists in many poorer nations (usually, more so in poorer countries) and could easily be maintained during a decline in living standards, if there were a desire to maintain it, but Canadians are too busy comparing their lives to some utopian ideal and finding it lacking to appreciate these small things that American expats love.

  192. I have a question about the guidelines for “Love in the Ruins” submissions. In accordance with the genre, the romantic partners are expected to “live happily ever after.” But what represents happiness changes with time and culture. (For instance, consider Solon’s answer to Croesus, according to Herodotus, regarding who the happiest people are, invoking the story of Cleobis and Biton.) Must our stories’ protagonists live happily ever after in a manner the present-day reader will agree fits that description, or can we go by what the characters themselves and their community might consider happily but might strike us quite differently?

    I have a story idea that could develop in different ways. One possibility would push the cultural boundaries of happily-ever-after a bit; another (if I can make it work) would push them considerably farther (though not beyond human experience).

  193. @Shane: re: your reply to Nastarana on the separation of the Irish Nation state? Only confined to Northern Ireland? What? Can you elucidate what you are referring to? What about Michael Connolly? Charles Parnell? The Easter uprising? The 1919 to 1921 WAR to independence? What peaceful transition are you talking about?

  194. Well, I wrote a (too) lengthy comment replying and pontificating on these discussions and it seems to have vanished into the ‘away’ of cyberspace. Probably just as well. I don’t disagree with your , (JMG & Fellow commenters) replies to me. 🙂 I think we’re close to the same page regarding college. I value both formal education and hands-on marketable skillzzzzzz. Am pushing both for my own kids.

    Only one issue from my vanished post that I have a question for. To those who support President Trump for being “Strong on illegal immigration”, are you talking about this wall? Do you support the building of a wall? Last I read, he was hoping for as low as 200 miles of wall, replacing the existing fence and or possibly adding to it. Has the fence not proven adequate as is? If the illegal border crossers (IBC’s) are simply crossing elsewhere, how is replacing it going to help?

    I have heard from various news sources, (predictably depending on their political leanings) that such a structure would be absolutely useless, as was the Great Wall of China, OR that it is very effective. I’d like to know what you think. Effective? What about El Chapo and the possibility of tunnels? Wouldn’t drug dealers and Coyotes just keep digging more? If the whole border cannot be walled or fenced – what good is a new partial one? OTOH if the fence is effective, why replace it?

    I have long thought the best way to combat the economic problems posed by illegal immigration would be to severely fine possibly even jail EMPLOYERS caught employing them, as well as deporting the IBC’s themselves; and to discontinue all govt. (tax-payer) supported services except emergency-room medical care, (which is often not Govt. supported). Yes, even public schools and driver’s licenses. I understand the compassionate reasoning for allowing anyone access to these, but I think it’s too much. Oh, and yeah, maybe stop helping our corporations plunder and destabilise the economies of their home countries. Oh, yeah, there’s THAT. As Malcolm X once infamously said, “The chickens are coming home to roost.”

    Anyway – the wall? Anyone?

    Do you support the separation of families at the border with no provisions in place to ever reunite the children with their parents? Why? I value your opinions, so I’d appreciate your sincere replies.

    Lastly: Get your black eyed peas cookie’. Happy New Year, Y’all!

  195. Hi Jess,

    Re: my 2 cents on learning Tarot

    I agree with what JMG has said in the past, that constant working with cards themselves are the best teachers. Cat Yronwode’s approach is a sound one as well. That involves getting MANY MANY readings from various readers (I believe she set 1-2 readings per week for one year as what to shoot for) along with regular working with the cards yourself. It’s an investment, but that’ll definitely get your feet in the water and expose you to a wide variety of reading styles and approaches in the process.

    As far as books go, I am currently getting a lot out of working through the exercises in Mary K. Greer’s “Tarot For Your Self”. It’s suitable for all levels of experience. I’ve been reading more or less regularly for about 30 years and it’s showing me some new things and making me work.

    There are a lot of good books out there. My personal recommendation would be to stick with workbooks and focus on practical exercises, and then broaden out into books that mainly focus on describing a system and those that offer specific card interpretations and compare those with your own experience. Create the pond, then stock it, so to speak 🙂

    I hope that’s helpful!
    Bonnie

  196. Tripp,

    That was me trying to be concise! It is a much larger, messier, tale– as are most things. We’ve learned a lot.

    I only wish I were a chemistry nerd! I did, however, grow up with boat enthusiasts who did their own fiberglass repairs. That sweet, toxic smell (methyl ethyl ketone peroxide) is etched in my olfactory memory, along with all the warnings (and horror stories) about breathing the stuff. To this day, catching a whiff of it makes me reflexively puff the air out of my lungs and go looking for a fresh breeze.

  197. “as real estate prices and other vehicles for the wealth of the well-to-do plunge in value…”

    That process has not really started yet; stock as well as real estate values have recently significantly exceeded their pre-2008 peaks.

    It is possible that the recent volatility in stocks represents the beginning of this plunging process, but that remains to be seen.

  198. Re Canada and the American Revolution. Most Americans are unaware that the rebels colonies tried to invade Quebec, hoping that the French, discontented under British rule, would join the Revolution. The expedition was unsuccessful–besieging a city held by trained troops is no job for the Green Mountain Boys. But the French didn’t care much for joining the almost entirely Protestant colonies either. They didn’t expect a better deal from New England Puritans than they were getting from the British. (I learned all this by attending 8th grade in British Columbia). The US invaded again during the War of 1812 with similar results. There were also border skirmishes in the prairie areas in the 1800s. Ask a random American how many times the US has invaded Canada and you will get blank looks.

    Ashara — the extreme right wing positions of some state legislators can be partially attributed to the one-issue voting habits of some groups. Take gun rights for example. The NRA keeps a list of votes on every gun related issue and come election time any NRA member or interested person can look up the record of incumbents. One even middle-of-the-road vote can put a politician on the NRA sh*t list and doom their election prospects because of one issue voters. Liberals tend to try to balance things–oh, he/she is weak on civil rights, but really good on the environment and pro-LGBT, so I can live with voting for them. Single issue voters will dump a candidate that pleases them on 5 issues if they are on the wrong side on the one issue, be it gay marriage, abortion, guns, immigration, etc. This has led to wildly skewed politics in which the make up of the legislatures does not reflect the views of people polled on various issues. In some cases the legislatures have been ‘protected’ from the results of their work by the courts. So we see legislatures passing extremely restrictive abortion laws that are actually supported by a minority. But the results of those laws don’t play out because the federal courts overturn them This leads to more posturing, but I suspect the posturing is accompanied by secret sighs of relief.

  199. @Shane

    Re: Secession

    I live in the GL area so I felt compelled to comment. I don’t think the GL area will, by default, become the remaining “US of A”. Who’s going to pay retired military pensions? Who’s going to pay retired Fed. workers pensions? We can’t afford to support Californians, or Texans, or Georgians. Of course we could modify the rules and say if you want your federal pension you’ll have to live in the GLs states, -we might do this for our own fed. retirees- but I’m not sure we want the influx. Of course other states could voluntarily pick up fed. liabilities, but there’s no certainty that they will. Easier to simply say that the USA no longer exists look to your own state for your pension.

    How would terrorists react to the break up of the US? Would they understand that the GLs area has no interest in middle east regime change and nation building, or would they just strike at the place beariing the “USA” label?

    I assure you the majority of GLs working people have no interest in continuing to uphold NAFTA which of course would be required if we are still the USA – at least while it’s being renegotiated. More advantageous, I think, to become “The Lakeland Republic” and NAFTA suddenly is just a trade agreement between Canada and Mexico.

    I suspect the liabilites of being the remnant USA are greater than the advantages (if there are any).

    Of course I’m suppossing secession having a domino effect resulting at least half a dozen or more nation states forming. That may not be the case. Perhaps only CA and TX will walk away and the rest of the USA remains intact. I suspect though that there is a tipping point at which new nation formation willl make more sense than trying to maintain the claim of being the old United States.

  200. @John Roth re quitrent:

    The difference is simply this. In England the Crown owned (still owns?) all the land outright, and had (has?) the right to kick you off their land at will and without any reason, even if you did (do?) pay your quitrent. In the USA you own your land, but you are obliged to pay taxes. Any of your possessions (not just land) can lawfully be seized and sold to cover unpaid taxes, but if you pay your taxes, your ownership is basically unassailable. (Yes, I do know about eminent domain and adverse possession. Those are exceptional situations, not the norm for all land ownership. The two situations seem very, very different to me.

    @Shane W. re slow rate of settlement westward before the 1800s.

    Settlers in the English colonies did indeed hunger for land in the west from the earliest 1600s onward. However, that land to the west of the colonies was not empty and free for the taking. It was already owned, had already been colonized (to a small extent), and was reasonably well defended by France and Great Britain. It also held a fairly substantial population of Native Americans, who had not been decimated by French and British policy (in contrast to the situation in the original 13 colonies).

    What changed things were (1) the treaty of Paris in 1783, (3) the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and (3) the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, whereby Great Britain and France ceded much of their western lands to the new United States. This opened vast tracts of western land to settlers from the 13 original colonies, who then (aided and abetted by the US military) proceeded to wreak genocidal havoc on the Native Americans there, just as they had formerly done in the original colonies. Once this had been accomplished, a flood of settlers poured in from the United States.

  201. Ok, predictions:

    1. Donald Trump accomplishes at least one and possibly 3 to 5 major policy items that would have been on any self-respecting Leftist’s wishlist back in the days of Z Magazine and Rage Against the Machine. The reaction from the Left is to insist that Trump is a racist.

    2. At least one, and if I’m very unlucky, as many as 3 to 5 Leftists tell me about how TV fantasy series “The Handmaid’s Tale” has either already come true or is right around the corner if Trump voters get what they want. Pointing out that I’m a Trump voter and have no interest in anything resembling the world of their favorite TV show produces blank stares and a change of subject.

    3. While I continue to hide my political views in public out of fear of discrimination, at least one liberal tells me about how it feels like we’re living in Nazi Germany. Or The Handmaid’s Tale.

    4. That said, I expect it to become a tiny bit easier to be a conservative in public in 2019, in the same way that 2018 was just a bit easier than 2017.

    5. A hasty geomantic chart drawn up for the question “Will the US enter into a major war in 2019?” yields Merch as Right Witness, Llawenydd as Left Witness, and Bendith Fawr as Judge. I therefore predict peace. The Reconciler, Twistwch, is also the 4th daughter, which leads me to wonder if tensions will rise somewhere America has a mutual defense treaty around year’s end.

  202. Hi Jess,

    Sorry, I just reread your post, and the info I supplied might not have been a good fit for what you are asking for! (D’oh! – though letting the cards teach you will inform you about what they are for and what they can do- which is A LOT!)

    You’ll find some history in the Mary K. Greer workbook I suggested, but for a more in-depth treatment, “A Wicked Pack of Cards” by Dummit, Decker, and Depaulis is an excellent start. It covers tarot’s origins up to the mid 19th century. The second book “Occult Tarot” takes it from there to the 1970’s though I have to admit the tone of the second book does get a bit gossipy.

    I Like Rachel Pollack’s works on tarot, “78 Degrees of Wisdom” being a classic.

    Enique Enriquez has published several books on what appears to be the crazy beat poet/postmodern version of approach to the traditional Marseilles deck.

    Roberrt Wang’s “Qabalistic Tarot” is still one of my favorite intros to tarot through the lens of Western Hermetic Qabalah.

    I also found some good stuff in Gail Fairfield’s “Choice Centered Tarot”.

    Bonnie

  203. Shane, if you are quite finished…..please allow me to point out that people can and will disagree with you or anyone else. Nor is assertion argument, no matter how forcibly expressed. The attitude of angry intransigence is one reason why conservatives have made themselves disliked, even by some of us who might think that some of their ideas are good ones. (The angry Left is also making itself unpopular for exactly the same reason).

    Could you please show me the evidence that working class Americans in any part of the country are pro-secession. I do happen to be working class and live in a working class neighborhood, and I hear nothing of the kind. This talk really sounds to me like an affectation of a segment of the privileged, right along with the fantasy that the nation is obsolete we are all servants of corporations (and bankers) now.

    I do know that in Oregon, where I grew up, natives would love to have an excuse to jack-knife a platoon of big rigs on top of Mt. Ashland, and another at the CA border on Hwy. 101. I think I can predict with reasonable accuracy that, following the CA secession which you so confidently expect, neither Californians nor their multicultural servants will be welcome north of their border.

    As for the rest, non-confederacy- part of the USA, if you think it will remain same old same old, where you and other Southerners can retain citizenship, dream on. Are you also planning to vote in a country no longer yours?

  204. Re: Paying for college

    Anyone interested in the soaring cost of college may be interested in this:

    https://www.oftwominds.com/blogjune16/ditch-college6-16.html

    The post is from 2016, but the student loan problem has hardly improved since then. There are two graphs that show how the rapid increase in tuition and fees has coincided with the increase in Federally guaranteed student loans. The graph from the Federal Reserve is particularly insightful as it shows student loan debt increasing from virtually nothing in the mid-90s to almost one trillion dollars by 2016 (it is now over a trillion). That graph explains why college costs have been able to increase so fast the last two decades. It’s the result of a debt bubble. Obviously the current situation is not sustainable and radical change in the funding of higher education is inevitable.

  205. Re: Calexit

    I’ve lived in California, except for four years, my entire life (since 1970). I know many people to the left and far left of the political spectrum (the sort of people who go to protest boot camps to learn how to oppose Trump). I do not know one person that openly supports secession or even mentions it as an option for the state. I’m sure some secessionists exist, but their numbers are too small to matter.

    Times and circumstances change, so I won’t say it’ll never happen. If California ever does vote to secede, I think it’s at least several decades away and a lot will depend on how the US handles reducing its role in the world long after Trump is gone.

  206. Tokyodamage, I hadn’t seen that article before, but it matches what I’ve been hearing from other sources for several years now. Many thanks!

    Varun, all those seem entirely plausible to me — well, I don’t know enough about the situation in India right now to judge that, but the others look likely. By the way, “douche” is not a profanity, and it and “douchebag” are perfectly acceptable on this blog. Add it to “frack,” “shale,” “borehole,” and the long string of fine old American utterances that includes “malarkey,” “horsefeathers,” “hogwash,” and “balderdash,” among many others, as suitable outbursts here.

    Dominique, thank you. As for the lack of trickle-down, that’s a common side effect of empire; when Britain owned a quarter of the world’s land surface and dominated all its saltwater surface, England had some of the worst slums in the world, and a degree of mass poverty equivalent to some of today’s Third World nations. Wealth in an imperial society trickles up.

    Tripp, congratulations! One step at a time’s the way most really successful businesses get built, so it sounds as though you’re on your way.

    Ashara, oh, I get that. The broader perspective of history really is helpful, though, because it reminds you that a century from now nobody’s going to remember what seem like huge issues today. I personally take a certain very real comfort from the awareness that not so long from now, Hillary Clinton will have roughly the same historical stature as Samuel Tilden, and Donald Trump will be right up there with Rutherford B. Hayes — can you recall a single fact about either of these once-famous politicians?

    Jess, oh, I know. Here in Providence, the only neighborhoods where I’ve seen those signs are the lily-white areas where nobody can afford to live but the comfortably salaried upper middle class. I bet if an actual person of color walked down some of those streets, the police would be called within seconds…

    Um, Shane, you’re kind of running off at the mouth, you know. Please tone it down a bit.

    Patricia, there were a few others. Josephin Peladan, my favorite crackpot French Rosicrucian art critic, was famous for his prediction that the Europe he knew was about to crash and burn — he didn’t know how, but he clearly sensed it coming. Glad you liked Jenny’s long strange trip — I could definitely see those scenes set to an extended Jerry Garcia guitar solo. As for the cell phone thing, we were without 911 service here in Rhode Island for a chunk of yesterday; I wonder if that had any connection with your outages there. And I’ll pass on The Gold Coast — very little science fiction these days holds my interest for more than a few pages.

    Phil K., true enough. I suspect that one of the things driving the increasingly frantic marketing of college educations here in the US is the growing awareness that the downwardly mobile middle classes have many better options, and are likely to take them!

    Escher, thank you.

    Anthony, those seem very plausible as well. We’ll see, though!

    Walt, I’d say go for it. As long as your protagonists are standing there very much in love as the curtain comes down, it meets the requirements of the romance genre.

    Caryn, I gather the internet’s having hiccups recently, as yours isn’t the only comment that vanished. As for Trump’s stance on immigration, no, it has nothing to do with the wall; to my mind, that’s grandstanding. Under Obama and his predecessors, illegal immigrants who were caught by the ICE (or its predecessor the INS) were held for a short time and then released in the US — in effect, they got to rest up at US government expense after the trek across northern Mexico, and then went looking for under-the-table jobs. Under Trump, that “catch and release” policy was stopped; illegal immigrants who are caught by ICE are either held in detainment centers or sent back across the border. That’s a major factor in the explosion of manufacturing jobs — employers can no longer count on hiring illegal immigrants at starvation wages, so have had to start offering jobs to legal residents with wages and benefits to match.

    As for the separation of parents and children, um, please. This country has been separating parents and children en masse within its borders, with no provision for reunification, by way of the largest prison system on Earth — our prison population here in the US is much larger than China’s, and China is a dictatorship with no civil rights guarantees at all and a population well over one billion. The Clinton presidency was largely responsible for that — does the word “superpredators” ring any bells? — and precious few people on the left have emitted the least protest about that; as we saw, it took a GOP-controlled Congress to get a reform bill through and get rid of some of the Clinton-era policies responsible. So I’m going to roll my eyes at the crocodile tears being wept about the children of illegal immigrants…

    Nestorian, it’s still spotty, but as I noted, quite a few of the hottest US real estate markets have seen sharp downward movements. We’ll see if that continues, of course.

    Steve, I’m already dealing with people who insist at the top of their lungs that The Handmaid’s Tale is coming true right around them, so I think you may be on to something!

  207. John,

    Regarding the wall, I started to wonder whether its main purpose for Trump now IS to provoke a government shutdown. It’s one way to save spending money for a while, among other possible benefits.

  208. @Nastarana – I’d give it roughly even odds, with a higher probability that he won’t get *as much* funding for the Wall as he’d like, and will probably have to bend on something he’d rather not bend on. Much depends on who is actually voted in as Speaker (it might not be Pelosi, though she’s definitely the favorite) and on exactly what the stock market ends up doing in January in specific..

  209. My black swan for 2019:

    (those other out on the limb predictions weren’t really all that unpredictable)
    Japan and Russia are able to reach some agreements which eventually lead to Japan supporting more Russian influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The result is that in the years to come, US troops are moved out of Japan within 2 years of 2019.

  210. re: immigration and the wall

    I read an article which seemed rather unpartisan explaining the cooperation between the US government and the new administration in Mexico regarding immigration.

    The current US administration seems to be taking quite admirable steps in cooperating with Mexico and the Latin Triangle countries to stem the economic problems which are causing the flow of illegal immigrants. In the long run, such a policy will benefit everyone. There’s a lot to be said for happy neighbors and the support they’d lend.

    As far as family separation, who is to say this never happened before? The media seems all too happy to report news these days which are anti-Trump with complete disregard for things which have happened in the past. Even without any definitive proof available to me, I’d wager a months salary that it’s happened before but wasn’t made such a big deal of by the media.

    Furthermore, our current immigration policies do a great job of separating families whether legal or illegal. My wife of seven, nearly eight years, and I have been apart for 10 months and will likely be apart for another 10 months, a total of 20 months, because policies actually become more restrictive when potential visas are issued for a foreigner married to an American. This has resulted in my four, soon to be five year old daughter not seeing her mother or brother for that amount of time. That’s 2/5s of her life. While I feel badly for illegal immigrants being separated from their families, they seem to get a better end of the deal.

  211. re: American Education

    Here’s an interesting article helping suggest that changes in American education are not that far off in future: https://www.wsj.com/articles/teachers-quit-jobs-at-highest-rate-on-record-11545993052

    Teachers are also frustrated with the expectations and bonuses rewarded for getting their students to pass meaningless tests. They’re upset with their pay. This points to teachers leaving public education systems and either finding employment in unrelated jobs or teaching in systems with alternative education methods. Changes will be needed in a hurry, otherwise within a decade, people won’t stand for teachers who got their jobs because they were the only person who applied instead of the best qualified to teach.

    Interesting times to have children. I could definitely see some movements which originated in the grassroots to help organize better education for students in communities/groups.

  212. Archdruid,

    Good to know about “douche,” I guess I’ll start using more old time swears, they have a certain ring after all.

    I’m really wondering if I shouldn’t do a series of posts on India. Things are boiling over there, and not necessarily in a bad way.

    Regards,

    Varun

  213. One question I have about the immigration situation; maybe someone here can help me.

    Why, when people are caught crossing the border, are they “detained”, and if with children, separated? Why are they simply not taken to the nearest airport, and put on the next plane going back to wherever they came from?

    Antoinetta III

  214. Dear Mr. Greer – You might like “Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies” (Allison, 2009) It’s one of the Great Courses series. 36 lectures available in all kinds of formats. I got the DVD version, from my local library.

    If you’re curious as to what the Dutch were up to, there’s “Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America” (Shorto, 2004).

    Then there’s “The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: the Conflicts of Civilizations, 1600-1675″ (Darn! Forgot to look up the author.”

    And, just for fun, there’s “The Revenge of Analog” (Sax, 2016). Many areas that went digital, are now returning to analog. Books, records, cameras, watches etc.. One little thing I remember from reading the book is that around 2010, there was only one plant in the US still pressing vinyl. And, only part time. Now there are several, and they’re running 24/7. Lew

  215. Those fine old American utterances should be revived. “Balderdash!” Wasn’t that fun to say? And don’t neglect the old MASH TV show for inspiration. The writers gave CO Colonel Potter lots of fun almost-expletives.

  216. Hi JMG,

    OK, I know I’m late in the game but I’m feeling emboldened to toss out a few possible futures for the coming year. Hoping this comment thread might carry on a while as you’re easing in to your break.

    I’m going to offer the prediction that DJT will resign late in 2019. It won’t be preceded by a formal impeachment process, though there will be plenty of talk about it. I don’t believe the Mueller Report (MR) will offer conclusive evidence for Russian collusion. It’s going to be the Trump Family’s life of crime that’ll bring him down. The MR will contain plenty of juicy details about lots of other stuff. He’ll resign as part of a deal that will avoid prosecution of himself and all family members.

    I’ve always understood the Special Counsel’s mandate to be “follow the money” in pursuit of criminal activity, not strictly bound by by the scope of the initial charges (see Clinton impeachment). The Trump Crime Family has been at it for a long time and has left a lengthy trail of misdeeds. No amount of lawyering up is going to save him this time.

    Beyond ’19, we’ll suffer through a year of Pence, who will not have the right stuff for Republicans in June 2020. The nomination contests culminate in the grand spectacle of the Biden v. Kasich matchup. Sarcasm Trigger Warning: No matter who prevails, at least dignity and respect will be restored to the office of the Presidency! Score one for the Deep State and the Dem/Rep duopoly of permanent war!

    Black Swan prognostication is pretty iffy. In Afghanistan, the Taliban gathers strength as the US troop drawdown proceeds. Several critical events will leave the US in a GTFO (get the F out) position (see Viet Nam). Within weeks the Taliban will be fully in charge and the balance of powers in the region has changed and become decidedly less US-centric. Hooray for everyone really…the Empire will be dismantled. Still, how humiliating…it will not be well received back home.

    Here’s my one safe prediction. The mainstream media, left and right, will double down on serving up the stupid, mendacious twaddle it concocts and most Americans will eat it up. Social Media platforms and pathways will proliferate and most people will become even more dazed,and confused. TS Eliot’s phrase is rather perfect: “Distracted from distraction by distraction”.

    Finally, and most importantly, Chiefs over Rams in SB LIII in OT thriller!

    As many others have expressed, I wish you a relaxing, renewing time in January…hope you get to have some good ‘ole fashioned fun too. Thanks for your many invaluable contributions.

    Jim

  217. Hi JMG, congrats for your quite successful predictions for this year

    Re: ascent of China as “the” superpower

    I do not see the ascent of China as the dominant empire easy and unavoidable in the future, nor in the short or medium term (from here to 2100), because China has many disadvantages and risks to become the predominant global empire; some of them are:

    1) It is a multiethnic country with many religions and cultures inside, with deep enmities and rivalries between them. To maintain all that together requires a huge amount of resources and power, and from time to time, the whole entity need to be “reset” with many decades of chaos. In the case of US this problem was “resolved”, because the natives were almost exterminated longtime before to start to be a global empire. I think US and the western countries will feed the •”freedom-fighterism” inside the chinese empire, afghan-style.

    2) China is more and more dependent of external resources today, before to be the dominant sea-empire. Normally the first step of a dominant empire is to dominates (militarily) the oceans, and then became dependent of external (overseas) resources, but with a much better position to control the maritime traffic and deny it to its enemies. Now China import around 11 million barrels/day, huge amount of food and many others resources to feed the population, maintain the economy and the military forces, and theses resources, except natural gas and coal, came from far away (Middle East, Africa, US, Brazil, Argentina, etc…). The planners at the pentagon are salivating with the prospect of a China population depending more and more of food from US, Latam or Africa. US (and also the Soviet Union) could become modern superpowers because their immense resources, specifically in oil, coal, minerals and food. The case of Germany and Japan were clear examples of the problems of this lack of internal resources to feed their populations and their war machine (based on oil)

    3) I think there must be some brilliant people in the US military, and some of them for sure have read your “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” and understand that a direct confrontation with China with aircraft carriers in its proximity is suicidal, and the approach would be to maintain an oil and trade blockade far away from China, using Diego Garcia in the Indian and Australia and some far away islands in the Pacific Ocean to disrupt the flow of vital supplies, and then feed the internal insurrections after the economy and social crash after the blockade (as in Germany in 1918). Of course the casus belli must be a Tonkin-style incident to blame the chineses and to bring the support of the “allies”. The air wings of the aircraft carriers will not be used against hard targets inside China mainland but against merchant ships and civilian traffic far away from the anti-ship cruise missiles, and anyway making secondary missions; the main missions will be carry out by the planes based on islands (as Diego Garcia or Australia) and submarines.

    4) The final result of this confrontation I think will be in the hands of Russia, and the approach of Russia will be to avoid a total victory of any of the parts, but if she has to choose, they will avoid a chinese victory and prefer a weak China, because it is much better to have the bully far away from your borders. Specially because today there is a big revisionism (irredentism) inside China about the “Unequal Treaties” of the XIX beginning of XX century and they ask the return of big chunks of perceived chinese territories, and the major part of them are, obviously, in russian hands, many of them are strategic for Russia (for example Vladivostok). If China try to conquer Siberia to guarantee the resources it badly needs….well I think it will be the end not only of the dream of empire, but of modern China as we know it today.

    China should conceal their capabilities and wait until the social situation in the US degrades much more; all this show of forces as “Made in China 2025” or the military build-up in the South China Sea is counter-productive before some big crisis hit US hard and force its retreat from the global stage (the US oligarchy will guarantee that this crisis happens).
    Den Xiaoping would not have made it so early.

    I wish everyone a Happy New Year
    David

  218. Dear JMG, enjoy your break, and thanks again for all your insights!

    On your post about sobornost and tamanous, a commenter recommended the book Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell. I have started reading it, and I’m not that far along yet, but it already looks like a good exploration of the effects of landscape on culture. To whoever recommended that book, thank you!

    Happy new year everyone!

  219. @Caryn re: the wall: A wall will certainly be better than a fence. Of course, neither will be impenetrable. Is it worth the extra cost, I have no idea. At this point it hardly matters; one side says no wall and all immigration is fine, the other says every immigrant is a threat. The issue has become totally tribal with no room for common sense. I will say, in Trump’s defense, that he did promise to build the wall and he is trying to carry through on that promise.

    The rest of your immigration ideas make good sense and would, I think, help immensely.

  220. All–

    To end the year on a positive note, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation for this forum, our host, and my fellow commenters here. Our discussions are something I value highly and look forward to each week. Further, if any of my comments ever came across as snarky orobelittling please accept my apologies for that, as such was not my intention. I value the respectful discourse we have here. With that, I wish all a happy 2019!

  221. @Nastarana,
    IDK, I thought that the Californication of the Pacific NW was darn near complete. I mean, I think that’s why JMG left his native Washington b/c it had become so thoroughly Californicated that he didn’t recognize it.

  222. JMG: Thank You for your reply, You may be misunderstanding me in that I am not asking this to defend the Left or lob at the Right. Catch and Release was just plain stupid, (or corrupt), no argument there! The Clinton era policies and the overall USA penal system – oh dear, don’t get me started! Grrrr! I doubt we disagree there either. I’m not interested in a ‘Right vs. Left – who was worse?’ argument. But, yes, I think separating the children from their parents is an untenable nightmare that both R&L should have been outraged over and put a stop to. That doesn’t mean the default is Catch and Release.

    HOWEVER, I think, (and now, correct me if I’m wrong) that a US prisoner’s situation is somewhat different: A citizen of this country, let’s say a parent with child, very most likely has family and community ties somewhere and if that parent goes to jail, the child will be placed with the family or extended family. When the parent gets out of prison, they need no Govt. intervention to find them. If they have no family or community, the child will be placed by CPS in the foster system and records will be kept of their whereabouts, so when the parent gets out, they will be able to track them down.

    This in no way excuses the fact that so many people (usually poor and people of colour) are sent there on flimsy charges in the first place – but they are in a better position than an illegal border crosser, where records of the children are apparently not being kept. I actually just don’t get why they had to be separated in the first place. Parents and children are both being detained or deported. Why not keep them together through the process? They had to erect housing and tents to hold them anyway.

    I THINK the situation was that detaining the parents has always been an option on the books, but not used under Obama, so when Trump implemented it, (Zero Tolerance Policy) this was all new to ICE and Border Patrol. It’s understandable that it could have happened a few times in the beginning before someone said, “Hold on here – this is madness, we have to correct this and just keep the whole family together – send them back together”. Bureaucratically, I think it would be a small adjustment, but in human terms, it’s enormous.

    Having lived in China for 17 years, I’ve seen photos and news reports as well as second hand accounts from Chinese friends, that attest that: No, China’s jails and prisons will never be overcrowded and they do not house the worst offenders, mentally ill and or very dangerous prisoners, as US prisons do: because they also have a penchant for simply shooting certain criminals or would be prisoners when they are caught. To my knowledge this happened 3 times that the press found out and published video and photos in the South China Morning Post, The first were fake DVD and gun smugglers from Vietnam, the second human traffickers, the 3rd described as ‘known gangsters’, (that was the one they caught on film). Having said that – again – it does not excuse the horrid and uneven, unfair, sometimes even predatory penal practices in the USA.

    And so yes, Sorry, but even if you believe in strong borders and keeping illegal border crossers out; I do find the lack of sympathy for them, alarming. I agree with strong borders, but why does it have to mean that parents and children are separated indefinitely with no records?

    I am kind of questioning your assertion that manufacturing jobs are plentiful now because of the relatively short time frame of detaining border crosses. I don’t know, so I’m going to research that now. Thanks,

  223. @JMG re: those pious little signs. I have proof of your last sentence, being on NextDoor, where a fair chunk of the postings are “Eeek! Suspicious character walking on Our Block!”

    Though they also scream about scruffy-looking white people, so there is a class issue also. When I go out walking, I post to NextDoor that there was a suspicious little old lady on their block, doing this & that behavior for reasons of her own. i.e. “looking straight at my front door!” (Because of their garden/lawn sculpture/amusing bumper sticker) or “lingering on the bus stop bench!” (Got tired, honey. Let me rest and retie my shoes.) or whatever.

    Of course with the upper boundary of Nob Hill South being Central Avenue, which in Nob Hill has turned into a bar & restaurant district, they may have some good reason. There are indeed burglars operating around here. But still, those precious snowflakes make me much prefer the student ghetto. OTH, the woman who does for me moved *out* of the student ghetto because of loud noise and student rowdiness, even though it was cheap and convenient.

  224. I have lived in the Great Lakes region for much of my life, with a 20 year hiatus on the West Coast, and a 4 year hiatus in the US military. If it comes to a breakup of the country (which I’m not advocating, btw), it seems to me that water politics, and the control of the Lakes themselves might drive an annexation of the entire region to Canada, rather than it becoming the “rump” as discussed above. One regret I have is that when I returned to Michigan, I located inland and not somewhere adjacent to the Canadian border such as Port Huron. Yeah, I’m kind of a Canadaphile.

  225. Thanks for the great essays JMG– I hope you and your wife have a restful break!

    Two things about global warming that I don’t see much in the press:
    1) Barring another meteor strike, the gazillions of tons of carbon that were sequestered for millions of years in coal, oil, and gas have been returned to the active carbon cycle. If we want to see what the global environment will look like when we reach some sort of equilibrium, we can see what the geologic record tells us of the environment the last time all that carbon was circulating. The Permian, perhaps?

    2) Homeostasis from biological and geological systems has already made the impact of all that carbon less than it otherwise would be. Homeostasis is often neglected in the calculations of environmental doom.

    Black Swan Predictions–

    OK, I’ll put in my two centavos’ worth;

    A) Donald Trump appoints our host JMG to the position of Head of the US Department of Energy (Trump apparently heard ‘Arch-fluid’ instead of ‘Archdruid,’ and thought it meant ‘an expert in increasing the efficiency of fracking.’ Congress approves the appointment to DOE to embarrass the president. For mystifying reasons, Greer accepts. Greer’s reputation for problem solving and consensus building in Energy gets him the Presidency of the Lakeland Republic 15 years later. The projects he initiates postpone the collapse of Oil-Based civilization by 75 years.

    B) Middle-Eastern terror groups hire a public relations firm and take their advice. They stop killing civilians and turn their murderous energies to ridding the earth of telemarketers and assassinations of importers and manufacturers of Fentanyl and Heroin. Their popularity goes up.

    C) Residents of the Flyover states enact tariffs on the transport of goods from West to East and East to West across their lands, and tax the export of beef and chicken. They use the proceeds to build railroad and other infrastructure that serves their own communities. The cost of fast food and bagged salads increases ten times in New York and Los Angeles. Who is supporting who becomes apparent.

    D) Trump declares a financial Jubilee Year instead of a bailout. Every citizen receives in his or her bank account an amount sufficient to pay off all mortgages, car loans, credit card debts and student loans, etc, plus $100,000.00. People with nothing at all get $100,000.00. In the ensuing financial turmoil, banks and credit companies acquire zillions of dollars, which suddenly become worthless. Everyone finds themselves debt-free, but they have to work because their money is worthless.
    In a hundred years, Trump is declared the greatest financial genius of all time for bringing back a financial technique of the Mesopotamians that resets the financial system without the need for revolution, mass death, and bankers hanging from lampposts. The bankers are, eventually, grateful.

    Looking forward to a year from now, when you can all tell me how right I was in the monthly-newsletter version of Ecosophia,

    with tongue fimly planted in cheek,

    Emmanuel Goldstein

  226. A pleasant break to you, John Michael. We will manage to muddle on for the month or so.

    When you return, we can all rejoice that the answer to the end of cheap energy has been found: this time they figured out how to generate electricity with nuclear fusion!!!! This time, they omitted listing the “Fusion Unit” (usually 10 years) for the development of the technology to the point when it will be creating electricity too cheap to meter.

    On the coming implosion of the Higher Education Establishment: I saw a post on Faceplant asking for paid help to a consultant in educational admissions in order to get a client into Famous Local Art School. Double levels of grift! I suggested to do it the traditional way, and make a large donation to the capital campaign.

    @ShaneW: is there a place where I can find out how to support the “consent to secede” effort in my state?

    As for my predictions for 2019:

    1) I will enjoy watching the slow implosion of the Borg, and the endless wait for Saint Mueller.

    2) I will plant my garden.

    3) The Second Annual Ecosophia Midsummer Potluck will be as enjoyable as the first.

    4) I will inveigle a couple more suckers to bet on the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election.

    5) There will be domestic discord about 1 & 4.

    Everything else is beyond my ken.

  227. Re: paying for college (particularly Ryan S’s comments)

    The solution to rising tuition costs and the student debt bubble alike strikes me as very simple.

    1) Strike the provisions specifically exempting student loans from Bankruptcy Act protections;

    2) (And this is critical, because it’s how you’ll get Republicans to go along:) End the federal student loan program as we know it, so that this particular bubble doesn’t blow up again in our lifetimes.

    Shutting off that massive federal money spigot will induce finanicial discipline (read: voluntary tuition control) in our institutions of higher learning in a hurry, and have the happy side effect of clearing away both layers of administrative bloat and departments offering degrees with no economic value.

    Loans would remain available through private lenders (presumably conditioned on work toward a degree with positive expected economic value), and of course colleges and universities themselves would be welcome to live their values by continuing to provide grant aid to students in need for study in any subject.

    Trump has the cojones to get it done, but probably won’t, since underemployed liberal arts grads aren’t exactly his constituency.

  228. Shane, Rita et al Re: Moving to Canada

    My wife and I actually DID move to Canada in 2015 for a number of reasons, due partly to her family connections here.
    It has been extraordinarily difficult to navigate the maze of government requirements, and anti-US sentiment by bureaucrats. That said, we love it here! 😉
    If anyone is thinking of making a serious go at Canada, I’d recommend you hire a Canadian Lawyer to review your situation, and then hire an immigration consultant to get the papers through the system. It’s presented as do-able by the individual, but we found that this is not a practical approach.

    No one should think that moving to Canada will solve all their problems. Its just a somewhat different set of problems than what one gets in the US. In our case, I get a sense that our move was mostly to put us into a place where we will be able to render assistance when it is most needed.

  229. @ Jess. I second 78 Degrees of wisdom as a good starting point.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/344574.Seventy_Eight_Degrees_of_Wisdom

    @Others. Recently started reading “The Black Count”

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13330922-the-black-count

    I was recently wanting to learn more about the French Revolution, talk about not knowing what can happen in the future… This is a really good book!

    @ JMG. I hope you (and Sarah) have an enjoyable and restful break.

  230. JMG
    I see today two reports that could be relevant for 2019 – and for your country and mine among others.
    Firstly, I understand that US Pension Funds have been having difficulty ‘balancing’ their investment portfolios. This could be interpreted that they have had difficulty finding secure projects that will be profitable in future.
    If my understanding is correct, economically ‘profitable’ means projects that will ‘grow’ and more than pay for themselves over a longer term. Thus ‘pension funds’ seek investment opportunities from which they can absorb surplus profit and thus provide comfortable middle-class (USA & Brit alike) retirements. ‘No growth’ or even perhaps retrenchment, means smaller or even non-existent pensions?
    This brings me to the 2nd of today’s report. Again if I am correct, the recovery since 2010, and continuing net ‘world growth’ of current ‘globalised’ economies has depended on a rapidly growing industrial China, which itself required, inter alia, the doubling of China’s coal energy production, the like of which the world has never seen before. We all it seems have floated along on the back of China’s coal miners. The report suggests that China’s economy is tailing off and there is fear of ‘deflation’. I see a quote, (h/t The Automatic Earth): “…“China is an aging, leveraged country, with excess industrial capacity.” Will China be 2019’s big story? …”
    Well, we will see … this year or sometime I guess.
    best
    Phil H
    PS I will try to get some of my own jobs done in the coming month. Smile. Very best wishes.

  231. Regarding the separation of children and parents – if I were to take my ten-year old child out of school for a month or two stroll down the Appalachian Trail during the regular school year, some part of our government would be all over us to “rescue” this poor child from the reckless endangerment of a neglectful parent. But a parent (or “aunt”, or “uncle”) who walks the length of Mexico with a ten-year old child, begging for support, still has full parental rights?

    (By the way, my younger child is now 21. This was a hypothetical example, not real life.)

    And, I see that the Washington Post is still pretending that the President deployed the military for a caravan that was “weeks away from arrival, but just before the election”, when it turned out that first wave of the caravan stories came out right about the same time as the election.

    Speaking of the Post, a few days ago, a big op-ed piece was titled something like “Federal employees are not Democrats, don’t use them as bargaining chips”. That was in the print edition. By the time I checked the political affiliation of the Federal workforce (99% of DoJ campaign contributions went to Clinton), and looked for the article, it had changed to “Stop using federal employees as bargaining chips”. There was not even a footnote that they had asserted a “false fact” in print. No matter how you slice it, if you remove the military (which is not furloughed), a majority of Feds align with Democrats. It seems obvious that people who are makinga career ono social welfare service provision would favor the Dems. To assert otherwise is as absurd as claiming that “Supreme Court justices are inherently non-partisan… but don’t let Trump get another chance to appoint one!”

  232. Predictions:

    Sometime late in 2019, we hit Peak Shale/Fracking. Almost immediately, we hit, globally, Peak All-Liquids. Global growth grinds to a halt, then starts contracting.

    I expect that if China does become the next global hegemon, it will not so much be “bumpy” as quite short-lived. I actually expect that China’s desires for global hegemony will be entirely nipped in the bud. The end of global growth (let alone “de-growth) will mean that millions of people in China will no longer be able to transition from an agrarian, traditional lifestyle to something like a western working class order. (apartment or house in city, car, job as office fauna, etc.)

    Worse, as global contraction proceeds, the 700,000,000 Chinese who have made this transition in the last 25 or 30 years will be faced with the prospect of seeing their urban jobs vanishing, and will have to return to the agrarian world. In the US, we had a similar situation, although on a much smaller scale; after the Crash of ’29, many kids who left the family farm for a (to them) glamourous job in the city had to give it up, and spend part of their last paycheque on a railway ticket back home.

    The Chinese government seems to have based its legitimacy on this agrarian-to-urban process. When it ends, let alone starts to reverse, the Chinese government will likely be faced with insurmountable problems at home, which will also serve to limit its hegemonic desires beyond their geographic “near abroad.”

    Antoinetta III

  233. It’s funny, but for the first time in a while I feel good about the future. Not the world’s future: I think the next few centuries will be unpleasant at best, and downright miserable at worst: it’s too late to do anything to change that; I feel optimistic about my future though.

    I’m going to say that I think one of the biggest stories of 2019 will be another black swan, and another one will be the development of a serious crisis of legitimacy in Western Europe; the yellow vests are the first sign of what is coming. I think we’re still a few years away from it fully exploding, but it will probably continue to build towards that final crisis over the course of this year.

    Also, I know I said I would be getting rid of my cell phone this year, but it will have to wait. I volunteer with an organization that works with children, and I plan to keep up with it. When I went to remove my phone from their list of ways to contact me and leave just my home phone I got an error message. I called, and they pointed me to an official policy which declares all adults involved in the organization must have cell phones.

    I currently value my volunteering more than I want to go cell-phone free, so I will keep the thing for a little longer. This isn’t to say I’ll use it much, but I’ll still have it, which is more than I wanted.

  234. @ Ashara

    Re dissolution of the Union and “oppressive policies”

    Understood. However, consider this: if the Union did dissolve and broke into a number of separate nation-states, how would the social policies of a sovereign nation in which you did not reside and of which you were not a citizen be any of your business? So much of our trouble today comes from people sticking their nose into other people’s business and telling them how they should live their lives.

    I’d also challenge you in that many positions which the Left labels as “anti-woman” are in fact supported by women. Take abortion, for example. There are many women on the Right, particularly evangelical Christian women, who support abortion restrictions. I myself, neither an evangelical Christian nor a woman, but rather a civil libertarian, would argue that there are limits: namely, there is a point prior to birth at which a second life is involved and beyond which the mother does not have unilateral say over whether or not that life continues. (Personally, I’d argue that elective abortion is acceptable during the first trimester, threat to the well-being of the mother is sufficient reason during the second, and only a direct and immediate threat to life of the mother is grounds during the third.)

    Now, I’d agree that, as a civil libertarian, that it is good social policy for a nation-state to allow for a variety of cultures and to generally respect the values of those cultures to the extent that they do not impinge on the rights of others. However, that is for each nation to decide for themselves.

    Sovereign nations are sovereign. No one outside that nation has any business meddling in the internal affairs thereof. It is the quid pro quo of national sovereignty: if I want my nation’s sovereignty respected, then I must respect the sovereignty other other nations.

  235. Re: 911 Outages…4 counties in Washington were without 911 service for a few hours a few nights ago. Nobody has an explanation.

    Non-swearing swear words. I like to use “hostakovich”. It has all the right sounds, makes me feel better, and , when asked what I’d said, I say , “Oh did I say that out loud? Just thinking about a classical music composer.” The usual response is “Huh?”

    DJSpo

  236. Dear barrigan. I agree he won’t get as much money as he is requesting, that figure being clearly an opening gambit and a giveaway to private interest friends of his. However there is said to be yet another huuge caravan being assembled in Central America. That might be make enough people mad enough to give him enough conservadem votes to get what he wants from Congress. I wonder why he doesn’t simply order the Army Corps of Engineers to give him a plan for defensive installations along all borders and then he could order the Corps to do the Southern portion first. Expensive, but if we were to wind down overseas bases….

    The reason for family separation is that this administration has chosen to incarcerate people who cross into the USA illegally–that is per US law–and they don’t get to keep their kids in jail.

    As for our massive prison population, what I would like to see is a truth and reconciliation commission review sentences of all non-violent offenders, maybe excepting white collar crime, county by county and state by state with a view to returning people to their families. That might take about 5 years. Then I would like to see a review of all cases of violent offenders, with thorough examination of trial transcripts and DNA (and other) evidence. And no private prisons at all. If we are going to incarcerate people, it is our responsibility to care for them.

    Black Swan prediction: a monster typhoon severely damages the artificial islands in the South China Sea.

    Black Swan Prediction # 2: Trump decriminalizes most hard drugs, effectively putting the drug cartels out of business. If you are an addict you will be able to receive treatment from any hospital or clinic. Big pharma abandons the hypocritical moralizing Dems and pours huuge bucks into Trump’s 2020 campaign.

    Black Swan Prediction #3, Justice Ginsberg resigns for health reasons and Trump nominates a Fox bimbo to the empty seat.

  237. @Jess,

    The best book is Mystical Origins of the Tarot by Paul Huson. Most books ignore the Tarot’s 15th-century origins and act as if Tarot cards were invented by Waite in 1910. Huson traces the evolution of each card’s most widely accepted meanings.

  238. @David: That’s a fair point, and if I had been born after the dissolution of the U.S., then I absolutely wouldn’t have any reason to concern myself with oppression in any of the other North American nations, at least no more than I concern myself with oppression in Saudi Arabia or North Korea today. But since I was born into the U.S. as it currently exists, I see the people of other regions of the country as my responsibility to some degree. I am their sovereign and they are mine, whether we wish it otherwise or not. For example, I live in a state where gay marriage and abortion will almost certainly remain legal even if the federal rulings on those issues get overturned. But when I vote for a Senator, I have to take into account that someone who supports overturning those federal rulings could end up making life worse for women and LGBT people in other parts of the country.

  239. Lew,

    I also loved Sax’s “The Revenge of Analog.” Right up my alley.

    And thanks for the Travelling Mexico titles you left at my old blog. I appreciate your encouragement, even though Shane was more than a bit premature in announcing that he and I would be galavanting across Mexico together on a bus between travesti’ shows…

    Cheers.

  240. @ David by the Lake
    ” I’d argue that elective abortion is acceptable during the first trimester, threat to the well-being of the mother is sufficient reason during the second, and only a direct and immediate threat to life of the mother is grounds during the third.”

    This so happens to be the exact formulation guiding the new legislation in Ireland, which is NOT modelled on UK legislation (which does not provide for elective abortion at any time, and as a result is foggier and too easy-going when it comes to defining “threats”), despite that nation having been the main succour for Irish women travelling to obtain abortions, but instead after the models that have been worked out in a number of other European countries – IIRC Denmark, Spain, Italy, Portugal, among others.

    Obviously this formulation is equally horrific and troubling to those who equate ending ANY pregnancy with murder, and to those who equate ANY restrictions on ending a pregnancy with enslavement/rape. However, it turns out that neither of these two extreme views (however much airtime they were given during our debates) are widely held, and a very large majority is quite comfortable with this tri-partite, or three-trimester approach. (There are still quite a lot of fine details to be worked out, but overall, the general guidelines sit “well” with most people). One aspect of the Irish law that I am personally quite happy with, is that in a 3rd trimester pregnancy where foetal viability has been reached, aborting the pregnancy MUST be carried out by inducing labour and delivery, with a team of pediatricians detailed to stand by and do all possible to protect its chance at life (remembering that this eventuality, so late in a pregnancy, will only be occurring at all because of a serious medical threat to the mother’s life).

    And, it so happens that this tripartite approach accords pretty closely with actual need. 96-99% of “elective” abortions (ie those sought because the woman is unwilling to be pregnant at this time) DO occur in the first trimester, later ones mainly the result of encountering legal restrictions or financial affordability issues which prevented early access. In the vast majority of cases later abortions DO generally take place in what might be called “elective” (or wanted) pregnancies, into which some unfortunate and unsought medical problem has manifested. (This is true even in Canada, where, to the best of my knowledge there is no legal regimen relating to abortion, per se).

    You have accidentally hit on, to my mind, what could be (when all the moral or principle talk is stripped away) a very successful and winning political compromise that most people can live with.

  241. JMG,
    Just getting into Monsters (after an initial read-through of the dragons chapter at the insistence of my 8 y.o. son) and just wanted to toss out that I had the Old Hag experience just a few months ago!

    I clearly remember being awake and paralyzed, smelling a very alien metallic-vinegary aroma wafting through, knowing that some other entity was in the room, and asking myself “can you really not move your body??” At which point of course I DID move my body, my arm, to genuflect, and then my mouth, to recite The Lord’s Prayer.

    It was all I could come up with but it worked. Left me shaken though, feeling like I should work on being more prepared in case it happened again. My wife says she experienced it too, a month or so before I did.

  242. I find the discussion about China as the next imperial power quite interesting. At the moment, China is indeed quite bullish and can barely walk with strength. But its rise happens in a time where resource availability, availability of easy oil and the Energy Return on Investment all begin to decline. It will be an interesting question what kind of consequences the intersections of these factors will have.

  243. And…a few final notes for this year:

    1) Happy New Year to Everyone, May everyone be able to handle the coming collapse with what’s needed.

    2) Enjoy the next month off, Mr. Greer – for if I remember the last couple of blog breaks right, the vacations actually started with the “I’m Bsck” blog posting.

    3) And my second “Black Swan;”
    a) The Northwest will have its 300 year mega quake (the White Swan, as that’s more a matter of When, not If).
    b) An EMP Event will make the death toll much worse and spread effects worldwide (the Grey Swan, to my thinking)
    c) This quake will also decimate Coeur d’Alene and Boise (and destroy towns in between), cause havoc at Yellowstone, and even affect Reno. The US will pick the Idaho towns over Seattle and Portland (The True Black Swan, as nobody will be expecting any of this).

  244. @escher
    Re: student loans

    You’re quite correct that prohibiting discharging federally guaranteed student loans in bankruptcy is the root of the problem. It’s one of the few problems I know of where there is a single, specific cause.

    Unfortunately, the easily predictable outcome of eliminating that provision would be a veritable tsunami of bankruptcy petitions, overwhelming the federal judiciary and promising to put the next several generations of lawyers through law school. That would be followed immediately by a collapse of the financial system, since student loan guarantees are one of the major factors propping it up. Any beneficial effect on the higher education industry would be lost in the noise.

    I’ve thought about this a bit, and the only conclusion I can come to is that whoever said: “for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, obvious and wrong” was a genius.

    @DJSpo
    Re: 911 outages

    There was some kind of problem with an infrastructure provider called CenturyLink. That had all kinds of ripple effects: here in Albuquerque we lost cell phone access for a while. I have yet to see a detailed, technical explanation for what happened, but I don’t expect to see it in the MSM, simply because the detail I want to see would cause most people’s eyeballs to gaze over.

    That first sentence is all you’re going to get unless you’re familiar with networks to chop your way through the thicket of acronyms, etc.

  245. @Antoinetta III,

    As I understand it, the law states that to seek asylum in the USA, one has to be physically at a port of entry OR on USA soil. So actually getting your feet inside the border first is a part of the process. This is a law that should probably be changed if we are ‘serious about border control’. They are being detained, only for the length of time to process asylum applications and or deportation. The system just just moves as slow as molasses in January.

    Incidentally, I heard on CNN yesterday, one standard Left response: “It is a manufactured crisis”; illegal immigration is at an all time low. The numbers started going down under the Obama administration and continue to drop. Not sure how that addresses the issue at all, but there it is.

    Personally, I grew up near San Diego and illegals living in fields and trees, doing the hard and dirty work was absolutely common. They really did live in the shadows, their children could not attend public schools, they could not avail themselves of any Govt. eligibilities. They were not people anyone feared. They were pitied. I think we all have our own unshakable, (or hard to shake) prejudices, and I must admit, my own come from my early life recollections of them.

    Also Anoinetta III: on your prediction about China, Yes, I also have a suspicion their days of glory as Earth’s top dog will turn out to be short lived. As to the city-dwellers returning to agrarian life and the countryside; I wonder how those ghost cities will figure into it? Will they finally be occupied?

    And finally: to JMG & all: I second the sentiment of David By The Lake. I appreciate these discussions very much. Many Thanks to you all 🙂

  246. A bit of an update on Brexit.

    …just emailed to an old friend in Canada…

    Hello Bill.

    Seasons greetings to you both and once again I apologise for the delay in responding to you. You asked about Scotland and as usual I can only give my own perspective. Events may culminate in their departure from the union. They would go with my blessing for what it’s worth. It would be the height of hypocrisy for me to complain about being governed by a remote bureaucracy hundreds of miles away in Brussels only to demand that the Scots are governed by a remote bureaucracy hundreds of miles away in Westminster. I can entirely understand the desire to be in control of your own destiny and the very best of luck to them.

    Just to bring you up to date with the political situation here in England (I confess I’m being deliberately provocative there) you may have heard about the withdrawal agreement that Prime Minister May negotiated with the EU and from the information that has leaked out it seems that she did so entirely separately from the Whitehall department that was nominally supposed to be doing this. The agreement is an absolute stinker and it effectively binds us to EU rules, with less ability to change them than we did as an EU member, but we will be unable to depart completely until we have agreement on both sides that the time is right, that is, at the EU’s pleasure. It also prevents us from negotiating free trade agreements with other countries while the agreement is in place. The UK will pay 39 billion pounds for the privilege. There are a variety of other nasty little traps but the ones I’ve mentioned are the main points of contention.

    Because of a court case brought by a group of wealthy and well connected Remain supporters, May cannot simply sign the agreement. She has to get parliamentary support and as it turns out both leave supporting and remain supporting MPs absolutely loath the proposal. It was due to be debated for five days and then put to the vote on the 10th of December but faced with arithmetic that suggests a defeat by over a hundred – pretty much unheard of by any sitting government – the vote was pulled until mid January. I imagine the plan has been to strong arm various MPs over the holidays but since those MPs will have been back to their constituencies during Christmas they will have been exposed to their local members who in the Tory case are very much against the deal as written. The EU has pointedly declined to make any changes to the text or even “Clarifications” so as things stand the chances do not look very much better for the January attempt.

    There are therefore four possibilities for the next few weeks.

    The government could rescind treaty Article 50 which started the countdown to departure. This requires the assent of the EU which it could probably get, and new a law passed in Parliament which it could probably not get. The political consequence of stopping the departure are also very grave – starting with a substantial change with the makeup of Parliament at the next election and potentially going all the way to civil disorder. The yellow vest protests currently consuming France and Belgium could pale into comparison.

    Alternatively the government could set up another referendum. This has been ruled out by May and in fact the prospect has diminished considerably when the opposition indicated that it would not support this. If it were to go ahead there would be months of wrangling about the actual question and there is the distinct possibility that Remain could lose again. The EU has been predictably tough with the UK – no reason why they shouldn’t be – but they haven’t done themselves any favours over the last few years. Also see my comments about riots on the streets as above.

    Thirdly, there’s the possibility that the Government could get the withdrawal agreement over the line. To do this, every single Tory rebel would have to be bought to heel (unlikely) and the DUP, the separate political party that is in coalition with the government and who do not like the withdrawal agreement would also have to vote in favour. This seems even more unlikely. However odd things do happen and I suppose there has to be a remote chance that the agreement will actually go through. My guess is that at this point the EU would be unable to resist the temptation to extract as much value from the UK as it can while it has the whip hand. In particular modifying the VAT rules (GST to you) to make them apply much more widely and at a lower threshold has already been proposed in the European Parliament. The Tobin tax on financial transactions – damaging to both the City and pensions in general is waiting in the wings, and the long awaited formation of a European Army may go hurriedly ahead.

    The point is that of course, during the withdrawal period the EU may well overplay its hand again, leading to significant changes in UK parliament etc. If the electorate feel sufficiently pushed a subsequent Parliament could go for something like a unilateral withdrawal. It seems to me that the Withdrawal agreement is politically unsustainable even if the government does manage to push it through.

    The fourth possibility is a no deal Brexit and behind the scenes various preparations have been taking place. The EU released some details on how they would react and it seems clear that the prospect of civilisation coming to an end is simply not going to happen. I suspect there will be a several weeks where there are some real logistical problems come to the fore but after an initial period things will adjust and the UK will settle down to be a second or third rate power in the world – much to the happiness of the majority of its population and the discomfiture of its elite.

    Pip pip.

    Andy

  247. Nastarana said “Black Swan Prediction #3, Justice Ginsberg resigns for health reasons and Trump nominates a Fox bimbo to the empty seat.”

    That’s not a black swan. That’s a city pigeon. “Predicting snow in midwinter.”

  248. @David BTL: Touching only lightly on the subject of abortion, particularly because it’s late in the posting week, but your ideals correspond roughly with those of the people in the pro-choice movement who I know. (Though we’d also add a second-and-third-term caveat for situations where the fetus is severely unviable, and carrying to term would be an exercise in pointless mental and sometimes physical anguish for the person in question.) If nothing else, second-and-third-trimester procedures are physically much more difficult and dangerous than those in the first trimester. Ready availability, affordability and lack of stigma for education, contraception, and first-term abortion seems like the best way of getting to that place, though.

  249. @ Jay Taft-

    Re: “Mystical Origins of the Tarot” by Paul Huson.
    I’ve not read that one- I’ll have to give it a look- thanks fro the recommendation!

    Bonnie

  250. @ escher

    Re: Paying for college

    You’re right, ending (or significantly reducing) the Federal student loan guarantee, coupled with a change in bankruptcy laws, will largely eliminate the sort of predatory lending that has inflated college costs and sent student debt levels soaring. It will put the onus back on the lender to make a reasonable credit decision.

    The problem of course, as with any financial issue, restricting access to credit will disproportionately hurt lower income students (probably not the poorest who may qualify for direct aid). People will then be upset that “access” to higher education is being thwarted without the Federal guarantee. I put access in quotes because I don’t agree with that argument. The commenters here have already discussed several options to significantly reduce the cost of college. Taking advantage of those options may mean a student won’t have access to the college of their choice, but they will have access to college. All of those options should be considered in lieu of taking on student loans.

    You’re also right that this probably isn’t very high on Trump’s agenda, even though it really does impact millions of people.

  251. @ John Roth

    re: Student loans

    I guess I subscribe to the notion that if you’re digging yourself a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. When it comes to the hole created by student loans, we can get rid of the Federal guarantee and change bankruptcy laws prospectively so everyone is aware of the changes in the rules. Those changes will slow the future growth of the student loan problem while also allowing students, parents, and lenders to change their behavior in accordance with the new rules.

    With respect to existing student loans, different rules can be applied to limit disruption to the financial system. Existing loans were taken, for the most part, when people knew they could not be discharged and had the Federal guarantee. Therefore, I think some proposal that allows for discharge after perhaps 10 or 15 years is reasonable. Not very many people will put their financial lives on hold for a decade or more to avoid student loans, but bankruptcy will eventually provide a light at the end of the tunnel for some people.

    I’m also less concerned about the impact on the Federal judiciary or of these changes creating a huge need for new lawyers. I practiced tax law for many years and occasionally consulted with bankruptcy attorneys when their cases involved the potential discharge of tax liabilities. In my experience personal bankruptcy is a very refined process that is often handled, for the most part, by paralegals working for the bankruptcy attorney. A well honed office can produce bankruptcy petitions and move cases through the courts very efficiently. Cases are often processed by Bankruptcy Courts with equal efficiency unless there is a significant dispute between the petitioner and/or the creditors. These disputes are very common in corporate and municipal bankruptcies, but not very common with personal bankruptcy. By the time an individual files for bankruptcy, there is often nothing left worth fighting over.

    The details can certainly be debated, but I think this is an area ripe for reform.

  252. escher, Ryan S – The reason that student debt is not dischargeable through bankruptcy is simple. If it were, stopping at the courthouse to declare bankruptcy would initially be as routine as buying a graduation gown. A recent college graduate rarely has assets that can be seized by the court, and so very little to lose. The prospect of not being able to get a mortgage, five or ten years later, would carry little weight.

    Actually, no bank would even lend to students, based on their anticipation of my paragraph one. Parents, though, would have to decide whether or not they were willing to borrow to support their child’s education, and the bankers would have to evaluate whether or not the parents had sufficient assets to serve as collateral for the loan. Many parents would not. Parents would need to decide whether or not their child would be likely to earn enough money to repay a loan from the First Family Bank of Dad, and many would not. “You can study French Literature after you get home from washing dishes at the cafe.”

  253. @ Ashata

    Re the various cultures of the US

    Fair enough. I’d still argue, though, that our present political construct is a direct product of our empire and is not tenable in the absence thereof. Given that our empire is going away, then if we are to hold the country together as best we can via a looser confederation and a newfound federalism, then we are going to have to be much more tolerant of other regions of the country doing things we disagree with. The alternative is dissolution.

    @ Scotlyn & isabelcooper

    Re abortion

    To me, as something of a libertarian, this issue turns on the personhood of the unborn child. I disagree with both bookend extremes (personhood at conception, personhood at birth). I had the humbling experience some twenty years ago of witnessing my daughter’s birth and her entry, blinking, into the world. No one will ever be able to convince me that she was a non-person thirty seconds before. So I’d agree that some form of graduated approach, along the lines of what I outlined, would balance a woman’s sovereignty over her body with the child’s life. If we could dispense with the moral posturing of both extremes, that is.

  254. @Ryan S, I think it depends on what you hope to get out of going to college. If your goal is to say, become an engineer or a doctor, you pretty much have no choice, but not everyone has such lofty ambitions. More often than not, people go to college because it’s what other people expect them to do. In that light, I keep coming back to something like this as possible alternate path for on-going education.

    https://www.thegreatcourses.com/

  255. @ CR Patiño, yikes! That’s horrifying…

    @ Christophe, thank you for the kind words. I meant specifically IRL and so I don’t think I quite called it.

  256. Dear Antionetta III, about Chinese hegemony, the Belt and Road project is clearly meant to facilitate movement of large numbers of Chinese to other parts of Asia; their influence in Asia will probably persist for centuries. OTOH, I have never believed China capable of dominating the Pacific Ocean. I suspect they continue to fund our deficits because they need the US Navy to protect their shipping. I tend to think American hegemony in that part of the globe will be succeeded by a coalition of Australia, Canada and Japan, backed up by the rising might of Russia and with the cooperation of a declining USA. I do think Chinese ownership of the South China Sea will be tolerated by the above powers only to the extent that China manages to suppress piracy, rather than merely profiting from it. At some point, the sooner the better I think, someone in Washington is going to wake up and say we need to be enforcing immigration laws for incomers from all countries, not just Mexico. Is Beijing willing to go to war over the supposed “right” of Chinese to live anywhere in the world they like? I don’t know.

    Dear Caryn Banker, President Obama thought it his duty to enforce immigration laws, to the everlasting fury of the SJW left, who were quick to turn on him. One could wish he had felt a similar sense of duty vis a vis Wall street. I would suggest that the underlying reality here is that Factories in the Fields (the title of the forgotten, and brilliant, book by Carey McWilliams) are increasingly no longer viable. There have been simply too many instances of food poisoning and of ‘cide contamination to be able to be covered over, even given the wholehearted cooperation of the lamestream media. More and more of us are doing what I do, sourcing produce in particular from our own backyards or from local producers, and buying staples from organic producers whenever we can. The multicultural left is having fits about changing buying habits–I am convinced that what is at the base of the vituperation about “privilege” is the reality that there are no more fast fortunes or even middle class livings to be made off dumb American consumers–but I, and I suspect increasing numbers of others are not willing to poison ourselves in return for pats on the back from activists. If you don’t want e coli in your lettuce, pull it up by the roots, and wash and cut it in your own clean and sanitary kitchen. My inside the kitchen knives don’t go outside and visa versa. Leafy greens from the store get cooked, without exception.

  257. As the new year approaches I find myself unable to shake off two forebodings. They are far from being black swans as they merely continue trends already well under way. But with creativity apparently tapped out as novelty, rerun, and, pastiche run amok, I have no better insight into what 2019 holds in store. So here are my predictions:

    1. The Democratic establishment will continue to avert its gaze from any deep analysis of the wreckage of its failed bid for the White House in 2016. Instead, pretending to have learned its lesson, it will roll out an “amazing” new strategy for success that will lead it down the same weary path to failure in 2020. Less a strategy than a talking point, the Democrats will all be in lockstep consensus that climate change is real (though none of them will make any more substantive changes in their own lifestyles than did Al Gore.) Convinced that it will somehow gain them votes, they will heckle and muzzle any climate-change deniers rather than go to the trouble to understand and address their fears and beliefs. Candidates will hide behind the protective vestments of their scientists, whom they are sure the populace trusts unthinkingly, to hurl accusations of heresy at anyone who doubts their infallibility.

    Climate change will become the defining issue of the Democratic establishment throughout the election cycle. Blind faith in the inevitability of their great talking point progressing toward total consensus will blind them to the glaring hypocrisy of their cynical exploitation of a hugely important political issue merely to win votes. This Democratic consensus will alienate more voters away from the party and, more importantly, from taking climate change seriously. Donald Trump will react to the Democrats’ posturing by positioning himself to win as many disaffected voters as possible, whether that will be by doubling down on denying climate change or by appropriating climate change rhetoric (while making no more substantive changes in his own lifestyle than did Al Gore.)

    The entire populace will be subjected to endless talking heads in heated arguments about whether electric cars, the internet of things, a Green New Deal, photovoltaics, automation, a third industrial revolution, etc. provide the shiniest, most convincing secular salvation from climate change (without having to make any more substantive changes in our own lifestyles than did Al Gore.) These jaded political infomercials posturing as ecological awareness will alienate both climate activists and deniers alike. At least one Democratic candidate will end up blaming the unrepentant voters for their pig-headed ignorance about climate change, rather than admit that his own two-faced hypocrisy, dripping with disdain, was too obvious for them to ignore (though we may have to wait until 2020 for this basket-of-deplorables outburst.)

    2. The bizarre phenomenon of state or corporate-funded color revolutions will cease, as all grass-roots revolutions for decades to come will be yellow. Yellow-vest protests will continue throughout 2019, popping up on various continents wherever disempowered, exploited people want to distinguish the authenticity of their grievances, to express their solidarity with other protesters around the world, and to borrow from the media success of the original gilets jaunes. Like Emmanuel Macron, most heads of state will under-react and then over-react, granting an ever greater aura of legitimacy and success to the movement. As more and more local protests use yellow vests, other choices such as anarchists’ black will begin appearing more and more suspect of elite organizing and funding.

    As yellow-vest protests increase their successes, countries and corporations will try to appropriate the brand to use as they did color revolutions for regime change, only to discover that the concerns and interests of the protesters are no longer as easy to manipulate and redirect. When evidence surfaces of state-funded yellow-vest protests backfiring and escaping their sponsors’ control, the political classes will begin panicking with over-reactions of all different stripes and persuasions (though we will probably have to wait until 2020 or later for this avalanche of self-goals to be triggered.)

    These are my forebodings with an old year now laid to rest and a new year looming ominously in the mists ahead.

  258. Happy new year, all!

    John Roth, yes, I would expect a tsunami of bankruptcy petitions, but I don’t think that’s fatal; appoint a special master to create and implement an expedited review process. (I’ll wager there are plenty of un- and underemployed JDs of recent vintage who would be glad to have a steady paycheck reviewing these claims.)

    As for blowing up the financial system, I’ve heard or thought about that, and it rings true, but could you elaborate on the specific mechanism? Please tell me the feds aren’t dicing up and reselling student debt…

    …Oh, I’ve just gone and done a web search, and it turns out that student loan receivables now comprise nearly half of the United States government’s stated financial assets.

    Er, forget I brought this up. Nothing to see here, folks! Everything’s fine!

  259. @Copeland

    >Agreed on free-trade and immigration, but you’ve been thumping those twin tom-toms for a while now. Could you (or the commentariat?) flesh out the rest of the galaxy of government policies that have forced down working-class wages, so I have a full magazine the next time I have to shoot down claims from the meritocracy class that working class people are where they are because they made bad decisions, weren’t smart enough, or generally lack merit?

    This is an excellent article on the matter: https://www.conradbastable.com/essays/the-bermuda-triangle-of-wealth

  260. Dear Shane W, May I take it that you do agree with me that Trump is capable of nominating a Fox bimbo to a Supreme Court vacancy? Awful Annie Coulter perhaps. I can almost hear his speech now.
    Brandeis degree!!
    Passed the bar exam!!
    Published author!! And let us not forget, 700 footnotes!!

    Dear Fkarian, you can start with the high cost of rents and utilities. Don’t forget that utility infrastructure was built at the expense of American taxpayers and then sold to commercial, some foreign, interests. Ask why our tax structure does not distinguish between productive enterprise–you know, make a useful product–and rent seeking. The Chinese Communists called it landlordism and I think they had a point.

    Then you can move on to the shocking lack of adequate, or any in some towns, public transportation. I am sure you know the drill. Some brave group puts forward a petition for better public transportation, complete with plan for funding and studies which show increased business activity when PT is installed. Then an unholy coalition of used car dealers, insurance dealers and the real estate industry begins calling their (bought and paid for) legislators and city council members. End of story.

    Then there is the flooding of our country with shoddy goods which have to be replaced 4-6 mo. after they have been taken home, another drain on meager paychecks.

  261. Best of luck sir.

    I myself continue the long and arduous process in midlife of unlearning everything I thought I knew. Not easy. But necessary, there is no going back.

  262. @David – “dispense with the moral posturing of both extremes, that is”… if only we could! it would be so much more productive a conversation!

    As to the nature of personhood, I do not think there will ever BE an agreed idea on where the line is, or what it means. I often thought the debate about when personhood begins, which bogged down so much of the debate, was so much wasted breath, if intended for purposes of evaluating what the regulatory regime should be.

    Although I actively canvassed for the removal of Ireland’s foetal personhood amendment so as to permit the passage of the new regimen of abortion legislation (which goes into effect in Ireland today) I would certainly have taken issue with anyone trying to tell me that MY child, in MY womb, during either of MY wanted pregnancies, was a clump of cells at ANY stage.

    I doubt very much that ANY pregnant woman is going to take instruction from anyone else on this matter. Not from the “it’s a fully formed baby” preachers nor from the equally imperative and high-handed “it’s a clump of cells” preachers.

    Because, in that moment, she is the only person in the world to whom its existence is real, and not theoretical. Whatever she feels, knows, decides, acts on, is whatever she feels, knows, decides and will act on, and she WILL live with her decisions and actions in a way that no one else in the world ever will.

    What is certain, and not so theoretical for the rest of us, is that her pregnancy is a process, an endeavour, a feat of daring, an undertaking from which the pregnant woman herself, her courage, her willingness, her capacity, her preparation, her network of support, cannot be disentangled, and also, is not theoretical.

  263. Just returned from visiting the parents in Florida for the holidays and relieved to see they are doing well. Talk and write with them, but worry in the back of my mind they were declining in a way I couldn’t detect.

    Eastern Florida around Melbourne is building more homes, schools, and widening roads from 4 lanes to 6 lanes everywhere we went. Insane amount of construction. Hardly the amount of traffic we have here in PA and the population halves in the summer, so it all seems like some weird government job project. Every housing community has walls around it and a name. It’s a strange place to visit.

    Hope you enjoy your time away from the blog and return refreshed and renewed.

  264. Happy New Year to you all!

    Having spent most of my holidays offline – studying, going to Church, eating together with friends and family, and playing video games (old school ones, and some new-school ones “old school style” i.e. together with friends on the couch), I’m late to the comment cycle over here and really don’t have much to add. Just a couple of things:

    @isabelcooper re. software companies and college degrees. Speaking as an overeducated software developer (I have a MS in Computer Science), I can say that I’ve applied my CS 101 skills for perhaps a grand total of 160 hours in the past 8 years. The rest of the work I do is finding out what the customer really needs, and then putting together a bunch of pre-built components into a usable package for them. This is the case even in currently “hot”, “cutting-edge” fields like data analytics and computer security.

    As for the technical work, the vast majority of it involves skills that can be done by anyone who can program an Excel macro, which is trade-school level skills. That said, I’ve encountered literally dozens of “Senior Developer”, “Team Lead”, and “Senior Analyst” candidates with “5-10+ years of experiences”, graduates of big name schools, who *literally* couldn’t write a program to generate a N x N multiplication table for me (this is very basic, think again Excel, iterating over the first N rows for each of the first N columns).

    Over the years I’ve learned to completely ignore the “education” section on a resume (whether college degrees or certifications), instead preferring to see if a particular hiring prospect has a publicly available portfolio, even if it was some side project creating a website or app for a small business. As I’ve told a colleague recently, I don’t really care about someone’s title [or degree], as far as I can tell there’s people who know things and those who don’t. Unfortunately, I haven’t had success convincing my employer to expand the hiring pool to folks without CS or Engineering degrees.

    @JMG re. American military drawdown. Big news over the Holidays here in the Philippines: The **military** is seeking a review of the 67-year-old Philippines-US mutual defense treaty. Such a suggestion would have previously been considered unthinkable, but as it is now folks from administration and opposition are supporting the move.

    Of course, the Philippines is not unique in the region in doing this. Japan, for example, has been making polite noises about the US alliance, while not-so-quietly pushing the boundaries of their “pacifist” constitution. Across the sea towards the west, North Korea has made US troop withdrawal an explicit condition in exchange for denuclearization. Meanwhile, the Philippine military is woefully underequipped, and the country is geographically located in an economically and militarily strategic area of Southeast Asia, and facing both internal and external threats. The fact that the generals are considering a review of the agreement is significant, as it suggests that they believe that the alliance might be more trouble than it’s worth.

  265. I was going to look at a Capricorn ingress analysis to test if it would generate usable predictions despite Libra being active, but I’m in the awkward position that I’m not sure half of what the chart predicts hasn’t already come to pass a little more than a week in! Saturn conjunct Descendant to three minutes of arc, in the seventh ruling the seventh? Withdrawing troops from Syria/Afghanistan might just fit, especially since given some of my more recent reading I think Cancer 2018’s Saturn may have been pointing at the North Korea detente. Uranus in the eleventh ruling the eighth and ninth? That might be the prison sentencing reform bill. I will, however, make a Bold Prediction ™ that’s also consistent with that placement: another Supreme Court justice dies in the next three months. (I rather hope I’m wrong about that.)

    That leaves:
    – Mars in the tenth conjunct the MC ruling the eleventh (Scorpio is intercepted), square Moon, very loosely square Sun, and very loosely trine Venus. None of those are placements/aspects I have a great handle on, though it looks like an ill omen. Given the Sun-Mars square it’s a safe bet that this is pointing to the executive branch rather than Trump himself; I’d guess that it’s referring to some combination of legal battles and more staff turnover.
    – Sun in the sixth ruling the second and third. That seems obvious: Trump is focused on the economy and immigration.
    – Moon in the twelfth ruling the first. National attention is aligned with the political class and focused on institutions or secret enemies – I’d guess this is Mueller, Mueller, Mueller again.
    – Neptune in the ninth ruling the tenth, trine Venus. I’d guess that’s pointing to delusion in the executive branch concerning aforementioned legal battles, though my instincts say I’m missing a second effect.
    – Venus in her detriment of Scorpio in the fifth ruling the fith, trine Neptune: expect either a shaky three months for speculative investment or a hopium-filled dead cat rally that collapses after Aries hits.
    – Jupiter conjunct Mercury in the sixth, Jupiter ruling the sixth, both loosely square Neptune – it’s a good three months for the working class and/or the military, either due to the tariffs or something tech-related (probably the former).

    Or, of course, this chart could be mostly or completely subsumed by Libra and do nothing, especially since most of it overlaps thematically. We shall see.

    (Interestingly, this Capricorn ingress also has a pile of Sibly transits: at least Mars opp. f.Neptune, the Jupiter-Mercury conjunction is opp. f.Uranus, Moon conj. f.Mars, and Mars trine f.Mercury, and that’s assuming Saturn’s out of orb of opposing at least one of f.Sun/f.Venus/f.Jupiter.)

  266. Hi JMG, long time reader here. I thought I’d throw a few granular predictions of my own into the mix:

    – Climate: 2019 is a historically warm El Nino; consequently climate disasters are quite numerous and dominate the news cycle a bit more then even recent years
    – Financial Markets: The US stock, bond, and real estate markets close down for the year, but in a way that is more comparable to 2001 then 2008; in other words, it will take longer to unwind this bubble then just a year
    – Trump: Is impeached by the House but exonerated by the Senate trial. The entire debacle causes his favorability to improve in polling
    – Dem Presidential Race: In the run-up to the 2020 primaries, the Democratic presidential race is defined a dynamic in which the party searches for a strong opponent to Bernie, with successive “flavors of the month” (think Harris, Booker, etc.) polling well for a month and then collapsing (a la the 2012 GOP primaries)
    – Economy: The US does not go into a recession this year, despite pain in the financial markets
    – Domestic Terrorism: There is a major terrorist attack comparable in scale to the OKC bombing perpetrated by a far-right/white supremacist individual
    – NBA: Warriors are upset in the conference finals, a team from the East wins the championship. I’m gonna go with the Milwaukee Bucks

  267. Very late in the comment cycle, but a couple of replies:

    Scotlyn: I wonder if the egregore equivalent of a different bodily disorder is having a bigger effect at the moment. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to understand why millenniarian movements happen in the past, and one possibility that’s come to my mind more than once is that they’re the egregore equivalent of cancer.

    John Roth: Trump losing reelection but reforms taking a few years to really start… I wouldn’t call it certain by any means, but that’s entirely plausible to me. “The next President doesn’t actually fix things due to bad solutions and/or more Congressional gridlock” is an obvious suspect, yes – doubly so if my gut call on Beto pans out or one of a few other names (i.e, Biden, Kamala Harris) wins.

    I’m not sure it’s right, though. The 2021 DC Aries ingress is the latest I’ve looked at in any detail, and it’s a doozy. It’s interesting enough on its own: Jupiter in the twelfth conjunct Ascendant is nice, as is Venus in the first, but Mercury rising in Pisces and Mars in the fourth on the nadir conjunct North Node and (loosely) Neptune both look dangerous. More importantly, it’s got a pile of transits that should apply to any Second Continental Congress foundation chart, given that all the relevant foundation planets involved are outers: Neptune opp. f.Neptune (last present during the years around 1860), Mars conj. f.Uranus and trine f.Saturn, Moon conj. f.Mars, and Saturn forming a grand trine with f.Saturn and f.Uranus, and if I’m right and the foundation Pluto return is one of Pluto’s enduring influences then add that to the list. (If using Sibly, add North Node conjunct f.Descendant to about a minute of arc.) That doesn’t look like mere continuation of grinding crisis to me.

    That suggests to me that if this occurs it will be due to the other obvious suspect: something gets in the way of any reforms, probably something above and beyond an ineffectual President and/or Congressional gridlock. I’m suspicious that something may be war of some sort, for two reasons. First, *somebody* had to have that pile of malefics in the seventh house of their 2020 Aries ingress, and I just checked: said somebodies include both China and North Korea. (Also Taiwan and South Korea, but not Russia/India/Japan.) The other is that I think JMG (and IIRC Michael) may be wrong about Trump’s election actually ending the threat of domestic insurgency/civil war rather than pushing it back a few years. I’m inclined to agree with Shane that Trump leaving office by any means other than free and fair election (or term limits or *maybe* clearly natural death or resignation) is likely to result in unrest; the problem is that I suspect there’s a fraction of Trump’s base (even 5% could be enough to cause problems) who would view any Trump loss as proving that the election wasn’t free and fair, and that fraction tends to have guns.

    (Of course, “I’m wrong and Trump manages to win reelection because of a war popularity boost or the like despite a bad economy” is also a possibility. Or, of course, Teachings!Michael could simply be wrong.)

  268. Good Morning JMG,

    The past few days or so I have been sarcastically pronouncing, “2018 is dead! Let’s not do THAT again anytime soon!” But l have no personal illusions that the decline and the strange will keep on coming in this new year. We go in during yet another government shutdown. The stockmarket is suffering the usuaal consequenses of getting out in front of itself attempting to create wealth out of thin (and hot) air from unfounded enthusiam unconnected to the economy of goods and services. The planet continues to uncomfortably shrug and murmur, ocassionally shout, “hey you! Monkey boys!”

    As a self-employed creative, I have two lanes of income, my labor as a designer, and my investments. In a good year, my investments are as, or often more productive than me, and are taxed at a fraction of my labor. But I know very well that most of that is largely virtual, and could utterly vanish with great rapidity in a market hiccup, or in an economic or global crisis, or a breakdown of fiancial communications infrastucture. I’m not to the point of burying gold bars – or sacks of rice – in the basement, but I am certainly daydreaming about it. I DID have a conversation with my advisor over wether her bosses with their crystal balls were thinking about calamity contingencies. Surprisingly, she said, “almost all the time.”

    So it’s not just us, brother.

    I am involved with a NPO that in a seson of convulsions, faces a schism that unsurprisingly closely mirrors the break in external society. Predictably, the organization gone from a cooperative, consensual mode, to an adversarial one. It is possible that it may be too much to overcome, the entity is certainly diminished and will underrgo possibly transformational change. I cannot express my disappointment in the political Left and Right for their dysfunctional excesses, and almost complete abandonment of any commitment to functional governance. The unwillingness to even consider the plights and views of the other side in any meaningful way does not lead to good outcomes.

    Concerning retreat from global hegemony and ill-conceived military adventurism – the Trump administration seems to do some of the right things in the worst possible way. I have pointed out to the howling fury of my left-leaning friends and aquaintences that Trump prevailed in no small part by being the ONLY candidate to even offer the illusion of taking working class issues, and actually talking to them. The fact that it was hugely salted with racism, misogyny, authoritarianism, bigotry, and a dose of proto-fascism- it’s still a toss up if that was a bug or a feature. Some voted for him despite that, others BECUASE of it. I’m a New York City ex-pat, and we knew he was shyster from decades of misbehavior and real estate chicanery.

    So what of 2019? As you largely propose, more of the same, and some surprises, punctuated by recurring crisis. It surely won’t be boring, but will often be … tedious. In the meantime, enjoy the downtime and will be looking forward to resumed missives.

  269. 1. The Syria pullback seems to be dissolving into nothingness. Delayed troop pullout and never any promise not to bomb and drone. I doubt the US can ever really exit the Middle East until it can somehow pullback from it’s two allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Empire comes with enormous inertia.

    2. I predict that impeachment is likely in the House but that if it does, the Senate will refuse to even hold a trial. House impeachment can only happen if support for it extends beyond Democrats, as it will when House investigations blow open the vast corruption of the administration, but Senate Republicans know that the core Trump base would not support any of them for doing so. Skipping a trial is the easy way to avoid taking a position since the 2020 elections will by then be approaching.

    3. I am amazed by those who claim that hypocrisy on climate change is strictly partisan. Apparently only liberals do it, and this somehow justifies supporting policies that double down on fossil fuel usage. Even if this partisanship were true, it would justify even more policies to force these evil liberals to live up to their rhetoric since it wouldn’t inconvenience all the wonderful conservatives, every single one of which apparently are already cutting their carbon footprint, and the forthright fossil fuel industry would of course support this beneficent policy.

    4. Dissolution of the union. I don’t think it can happen until fossil fuel use declines enough that trade and travel decline a lot. At that point as some level of regional self-sufficiency is needed, those regions that have no hope of feeding themselves will start migrating en masse and a breakup will be the only way for other regions to stop mass domestic immigration.

    Qualifier: all of the above are IMHO. Maybe I am all wrong!

  270. @ Lathechuck

    You’re right that an end to the Federal guarantee will severely limit access to loans and that will certainly be a problem initially. However, I think the cost of college will eventually come down too. Thirty years ago I was able to pay for my undergraduate degree without loans by working part time. That isn’t possible today since tuition at the public college I attended costs about nine times as much. I think easy access to student loans has allowed colleges to wildly inflate prices. Limiting access to loans will eventually lower the cost of college as many colleges will face the prospect of lowering prices or closing their doors. In the meantime, more students that want to pursue a college degree will need to be creative in how to finance and pursue it. I know this will negatively impact some students, but the current situation where so many students wind up in long-term debt servitude doesn’t seem sustainable either.

    In the situation you describe, I think the First Family Bank of Dad is making an excellent credit decision. 😉

    @ Trlong36

    I agree, I think alternate paths such as The Great Courses, Khan Academy, apprenticeships, etc., may serve many educational purposes at a much lower cost.

  271. Re: Paying for college

    Thinking about the increasing cost of college, I recall that minimum wage increased to $4.25/hr in 1988 when I started college. Yesterday, minimum wage here increased to $12.00/hr. Based on those rates, it took about 350 hours at minimum wage to pay tuition in 1988; now it takes about 1,100 hours at the higher minimum wage rate. That staggering difference can’t be explained by the quality of the education.

  272. I started college in the Fall of 1970. Total fees for a full time semester at S.F. State College was $72.00. No need to even think about loans, Mom just wrote a cheque and I was in.

    At this time, minimum wage here in California was $1.65 per hour. This would translate into slightly less that 44 hours to work this off.

    The quickest and easiest was for colleges to cut costs should be simple. Dig up a flow-chart of the college’s Administration in 1970, and compare it with the one currently in force. Then, eliminate all the positions, and their support staffs that have been added since 1970. I think that virtually all the additions can be described as “bloat.”

    Antoinetta III

  273. In case our host keeps putting posts through here during the hiatus 🙂

    @Scotlyn

    Re abortion

    The compromises necessary for a functional legal solution are by definition messy, w/o doubt! I’d agree that metaphysics are less helpful as a basis for law, but are perhaps useful in framing the issue (e.g., for me in terms of personhood) and defining the problem of trying to balance conflicting bundles of rights: in this instance, the right of a woman to control over her body and the right of a (defenseless and voiceless) person to life. In order to reach that compromise, the first thing that must be ditched is any form of absolutes. Folks on one side would need to accept the idea that there would be a period of time during which the woman would have the unfettered right to elective abortion, while folks on the other side would need to accept the idea that the unfettered right would end fairly early in the pregnancy and that the right to have an abortion would become increasingly restricted as the pregnancy progressed. Neither the life-at-conception crowd nor the abortion-on-demand crowd would be satisfied with this, which to me is one indication of a reasonable solution.

    @ SamuraiArtGuy

    “[T]he Trump administration seems to do some of the right things in the worst possible way.”

    That is one of the best summaries of the current administration I’ve seen. And of course, so long as the Democrats insist that the wrong things (with respect to those certain key issues) are the only possible path, then Trump will remain the better choice of bad options. Give me a candidate who can succeed in pulling the Dems’ head from the party’s collective nether orifice and I’ll gladly vote for him or her! (But I’m not holding my breath.)

  274. @Carlos M.; Good on you, and good luck with your employer! That much time, or less, sounds like about the same amount I’ve used my English degree professionally.

    @Scotlyn, David BTL: Totally. I get exactly what you guys mean–I’ve had friends who’ve had children, and miscarriages, and we were dealing with *children* in all cases, and I respect that. Conversely, had I gotten pregnant back when I was able to do so, I would’ve reacted harshly, and perhaps physically, to any suggestion that what I was carrying was a baby–it would have been a clump of cells at best, a Giger-esque parasite at worst.

    Some things are determined by the emotional reactions of the people involved, and I think the best we can do in such situations is not try and impose a universal guideline on anyone, legally or socially, where those are concerned.

  275. Hey everybody, this week, there is no “late in the cycle”, because this week is a month! Lets keep the discussion going. And JMG, please keep putting comments through if you have a few moments free between all of the well deserved relaxing;-).

    Scotlyn, you are indeed on fire this week. I like your thoughts on autoimmunity, druidical third way, etc.

    RE: Thomas Frank, agreed. He sheds light on the predicament of a lot of folks who used to vote D. (I grew up in Minnesota and I remember a faction called DFL: Democrat-Farm-Labor). I think I stole the term meritocracy from Frank.

    FYI: My wife was diagnosed with colon cancer last week, and I suffer from a long list of autoimmune disorders, most recently, MS. My 58 year old brother was also just diagnosed with MS. So I can relate to your synthesis.

  276. @ Pretentious Hello. I’d be very interested in hearing more about your thoughts on cancer and millenarianism.

    As I see it, the psychic and cultural meanings around cancer cluster around the idea of a sneaky enemy within, which can do a great deal of damage before you are aware of its existence (let’s say a “reds under the bed” sort of scenario), but there is still no special anxiety about differentiating between “me” and “not me”.

    That is to say, cancer still invokes anxiety about a border/boundary, but in a different way. The body within is still viewed entirely as “me”, and generally healthy, except for nefarious “not me” infiltrators working behind the scenes. When you search for and detect them, the appropriate response is to nuke them or excise them, and suffer collateral damage if necessary – then, with luck, be once again, a healthy self.

    Whereas in autoimmunity, it is less clear whether the body itself (even that part of it which is “me”) might not be nefariously acting against “me”, and one’s own internal weapons are pointed every which way, and damaging “me” in quite spectacular ways… (school shootings by their own fellows and classmates, anyone?).

    However, both illnesses are quite powerful in their own rights, and I think it is VERY interesting to consider each as an egregore. Thank you for that.

  277. JMG writes:
    one neglected factor that I think is feeding into the current slumps is a rebalancing of wealth back to the productive sectors of the US economy.
    Is there anywhere I can read about this alleged ‘rebalancing’ ?

  278. Well, not that there was really any doubt at this point, but it appears that Pelosi will be Speaker. Insufficient rebellion in the ranks and so the old guard of the party remains very much in charge. Perhaps I am being overly pessimistic, but I don’t see any real chance for substantive change in the Democratic Party any time soon.

    Perhaps a leftward populist-type will yet rise and conduct a hostile take-over of the party, a la Trump 2016. But I think the time for that has passed and the interplay of forces are going to drive the Democrats to double-down as the party of the bi-partisan establishment consensus. The coming year should give some indication, one way or the other!

  279. @ isabelcooper

    Re emotions and abortion

    I can’t disagree that the emotional response of the woman is a significant thing and needs to be taken into account. I would, however, argue that there comes a point prior to birth where the value of the second life in question becomes something independent of views of the mother. That is, at a certain point the child has value (and personhood and rights) in and of him/herself, regardless of whether or not the mother values him/her. Where that point lay is, of course, the heart of the matter and necessarily involves social and legal guidelines. A compromise solution, balancing the conflicting rights in some fashion, would be the most promising approach, I’d continue to suggest.

  280. @David: I think we may be agreeing elaborately at each other, as a friend says. 🙂 My one point of difference, I suspect, is that to my mind the current standards pretty well cover that already, de facto if not de jure: only 1.3% of abortions in the US happen after 21 weeks, and that number doesn’t differentiate between those that involve medical issues and those that don’t. Placing legal restrictions on it just seems like it’d mostly cause unnecessary hardship on women with wanted pregnancies that go catastrophically wrong, or, from what I heard of the days before Roe v. Wade, vastly increase the body count, often in really horrific ways.

    Studies aren’t wildly available, IME, but the biggest non-medical reasons I’ve seen for late-term abortion are that women are unaware that they’re pregnant or how far along they are, or didn’t have access to earlier procedures. The clinic protesters and the politicians cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, therefore–not to mention the right-wing types against comprehensive sex ed and contraceptive access–are actually leading to more of the kind of abortion I can understand people having qualms about. (So is, IMO, the social stigma about treating the first-term version like any other medical procedure, and being pressured to regard it as a big emotional decision even if, for you, it isn’t. If you feel like you’ll be a bad person if you decide too quickly, and then you’re off count by a week or two, which isn’t uncommon for young women…well, yeah.)

    But I think we have the same goals, just different methods of approach to them. I don’t agree with your position on personhood–and even if it were the case, no other person has the right to use my organs and fundamentally reshape my body without my consent*–but I don’t think anyone *wants* more second- or third-trimester abortions, any more than anyone wants more root canals or bowel resectionings. I think education and access are more helpful in prevention, and legal restriction more harmful, but mostly what I’m worried about in re: bans on late-term procedures is the possibility of the Santorum crowd (which is openly against first-term abortion, birth control, sex ed, and probably opening your eyes during the act) using them as a legal wedge in the door to go further, and I don’t have the legal training to know whether or not that’s a real possibility.

    * I do kind of think organ and blood donation should be mandatory, or at least are ethically obligatory in most cases, but you’re dead in the first case and blood donation doesn’t have the long-term effects on your body that pregnancy does. Still, if we ever make them legally required, I’ll change my position here.

  281. pretentious_username sez:

    ****
    – Speculative investments will fare poorly in 2019, though I’m less convinced we’ll see a proper bubble burst. (If we don’t, that’s likely to show up in 2020 – this year has Saturn and whatever remains of Pluto’s influence in the fifth house in most of the US ingresses, including both of the ones that should definitely be operative, while next year’s Aries chart has Uranus there instead.)
    – It’s not a lock, but I’ll go out on a limb and predict that China’s economy enters recession early in the year. (I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s tension between a nationalist government and a less nationalist populace there.)
    – The US economy tips over into recession late in the year, though the brunt of it won’t hit until 2020. (As I’ve noted before, Shane may yet get his depression – US Aries 2020’s second house is pretty much “take the second house from the 2008 Libra ingress and throw 2.5 malefics in on top of it”.) However, the working class and/or military personnel should do pretty well for at least the first half of the year.

    Longer-term prediction: Trump will not be reelected in 2020. That’s a direct consequence of that last economy prediction above and “it’s not different this time”: a major recession starting during a President’s first term is the first exception to the usual rule that incumbent Presidents win re-election, and that goes double if it hits during the reelection year.
    ****

    I have to agree with you. I think Trump 2020 would be a lock except for the economy. Unless the market snaps back up we are at the very beginning of the next economic downturn. Everyone’s darling, Apple, dropped, sort of confirming it. I think the Fed will try to forestall by not hiking but this will only delay the inevitable. I expect the upcoming recession to be baked in the cake if we have not clearly and unambiguously returned to the previous uptrend by March. Which I don’t think will happen. Look for the S&P 500 to stay below 365-day SMA for 12 weeks as a confirmation (at which point it might be wise to cash out of the stock market, in my opinion, disclaimer – I am not a professional). You’ll also see the official U-2 unemployment rate start to climb again immediately before the recession hits the public.
    It sucks because I was going to be in a position this year to invest some money but now I am just going to stick it in savings, maybe US Treasuries. Not a safe time to get into the stock market until sometime after next presidential election.
    The 2020 economic crisis could sweep in a Dem president and congress that will implement lots of progressive government programs.
    This all applies to me very personally as I have been itching for a major move which is not working out. However with the storm clouds on the horizon I see the value in digging in and staying where I am at and riding this out. To have made the major move over the last year would have made me and my family extremely vulnerable. An astrologer I follow sees major new life changes for me in Dec 2020. So I feel like entrenchment is the order of the day until then. I’d advise the same for all of you, to batten down the hatches and secure yourselves.

    I also want to mention I have made some comments on previous posts about The Handmaid’s Tale coming true, but I’d like to clarify that I don’t see fundamentalist Christianity in a resurgent position a la Trump haters. My view is long term, at some point -A- fundamentalist ideology will become appealing, once the long term decline really starts to bite. I think it could be Christianity, although others said it will not be, that we are in the first stages of the formation of a new ideology. We shall see.

  282. Dear Fkarian, Our host posted the following last August about Britain:

    free trade and open borders are pushed so enthusiastically by the well-to-do. In computer-geek jargon, the mass unemployment, stagnant job market, and soaring rents that have driven so many working class Britons into destitution and misery since Thatcher’s time aren’t bugs, they’re features, meant to increase the wealth of those who benefit from lower labor costs and higher real estate values

    You can surely see how the same applies to us. High rents are not just “the marketplace” they are a deliberate tactic used to increase the wealth of those unwilling to make honest livings. Deliberately imiserating the poor also serves to keep the hoi polloi out of public life.

    I heard on NPR this morning that US troops deployed at the southern border are being used to rebuild portions of The Wall. I think Trump gets his wall weather the Dems and their clients like it or not. I think the Dem leadership should fund it only so long as Trump uses the Army Corps. In other words, call his bluff as to using public funds to enrich his cronies. I tend to think walls between nations can be effective or why else would folks like the Romans and the Chinese have kept building them?

  283. Honestly, David, I think Trump is the way it had to all go down, in all it’s ugly messiness. Trump’s as American as apple pie, and the Democrats are just too representative of the Faustian pseudomorphosis to ever give it up.

  284. @ isabelcooper

    Re abortion

    I’d agree that we have a good amount of overlap and fair grounds for compromise. Functionally, yes, I believe that you are correct that the vast majority of abortions are within the first two trimesters (or earlier, if that 21 weeks is true). However, it does not follow that no restrictions on the practice are appropriate. As our host has observed, arguing for one extreme on the basis that anything less inevitably leads to the other extreme and that no solutions in between are valid choices makes for fine rhetoric, but not terribly good logic. I will not agree with the life-at-conception position, nor can I agree with the unrestricted-freedom-to-abort-until-birth position. I know what I witnessed two decades ago: my daughter was *not* not-a-person in the minutes, hours, and days leading up to her birth and no one is going to ever convince me otherwise.

    In the end, some kind of tripartite division is likely the best compromise: a period of elective abortion rights, a period where some medically-assessed issue reasonably impairing the health or well-being of the mother provides grounds, and a final period where the unborn child is a person and only a direct threat to the mother’s life (essentially, choosing between the mother and the child) is sufficient cause. The division I mentioned previously was nicely symmetrical, but nothing would require that. Were you, Rick Santorum, and I at the negotiating table to hash out legislation, I’d tell him that the minimum period of elective abortion I’d support is 12 weeks and the maximum full-personhood period I’d support is similarly 12 weeks, and I’d tell you that the maximum elective period I’d support is 18 weeks and the minimum full-personhood period I’d support is 9 weeks; now, let’s talk.

    With respect to education, contraception (which is not abortion, regardless of what some people assert), and the like, I’d of course be supportive, though I’d point out that there are cultural issues involved (e.g., religious practices, and beliefs) and that education (via schools) is a state, not a federal, function. So long as people in one area of the country were respectful of the views and practices of folks in other areas of the country, I’m good with that.

    @Shane

    Re Trump

    At this point, I think you are correct. I believe the window of opportunity for the leftward populist closed with HRC’s nomination in 2016. The Democrats had the chance to meet (somewhat faux) populist fire with (somewhat more genuine) populist fire and totally blew it. I see the consequences of this as being that the Democrats become the bastion of the old guard bipartisan consensus, as I’ve mentioned. Such are the peculiarities of history!

  285. David,
    I think it takes someone like Trump to push through what he’s been able to push through. There once was a time when leftists played hardball as much as the right, but in the rush to embrace “nonviolence” and political correctness, they’ve become a wet noodle. When a SJW makes demands and hijacks something, they cave. Part of me wonders if Bernie would’ve accomplished what Trump has accomplished regarding tariffs and retreat from empire. Would he have caved? Would he have compromised? We saw how he caved to Hillary.

  286. @ Copeland “My wife was diagnosed with colon cancer last week, and I suffer from a long list of autoimmune disorders, most recently, MS. My 58 year old brother was also just diagnosed with MS. So I can relate to your synthesis.”

    Oh, I am so sorry to hear that and my heart goes out to you. Theory is all very well, until you find yourself at the coalface. May I have your permission to hang your names in my blessing tree, as a way to ask for strength to your intentions? (The idea came to me from thorn trees around holy wells in Ireland, which are often full of scraps of paper with messages of prayer, and hope, and of thanks from people. I’ve set up a small version (more of a little branch) in a corner of my house, and when I want to offer prayers or wishes for specific people and intentions, I write on a scrap of paper and hang it on my wee “tree”).

  287. @ Isabel and David BTL, I do think agreeing with each other “elaborately” while coming to something workable that no one will be happy with, is probably the definition of good politics. And good politics always seems to actually be within reach on this site. Would that it were more contagious!

    David…
    “I will not agree with the life-at-conception position, nor can I agree with the unrestricted-freedom-to-abort-until-birth position. I know what I witnessed two decades ago: my daughter was *not* not-a-person in the minutes, hours, and days leading up to her birth and no one is going to ever convince me otherwise.”

    I can say that you do touch on something here. When I ask myself, who has the right to life, I answer to myself, everyone who can self-sustain that life, for as long as they can self-sustain it, and no one else has a right to prematurely end it. When I ask myself who has the right to the use of my body as a sustenance and support to THEIR life, I answer to myself, no one to whom I have not willingly given that right. That is to say, if speaking ONLY on the basis of rights, to me it says that aborting (ie ending) a pregnancy by early delivery is a woman’s right. But killing her foetus (by “feticide” type procedures incorporated into the delivery process) is NOT her right. The foetus has a separate right to live as long as it can self-sustain its own life, and should be granted every care and help to do so (which our new Irish law provides for).

    But, what I found impressed upon me with increasing strength during our recent constitutional and legal battle, was the extent to which the visual imagery and language of the “pro-life” side eclipsed the pregnant woman out of her own pregnancy. Not only the panoply of graphic, bloody abortion scenes which effectively frightened many children, but also the ethereal images of very beautiful beings floating in luminous orbs, with umbilical cords apparently connecting them directly to heaven, and no visible suggestion that somewhere, there is a woman who is busily engaged in growing and feeding them and giving life to them. It dawned on me that eclipsing the woman out of the image of pregnancy was a necessity if they were to convince people that a pregnant woman should have no voice or part in her pregnancy.

    So that is what I sought to restore to the discourse, where I could. Awareness that a pregnancy is a process by means of which fertilised eggs become human beings – “somewhere along the way”. It necessarily takes place within the body of a woman, it necessarily consumes her blood, bone and breath. Without her undertaking this mission, frozen fertilised eggs can conceivably languish forever in a half-life twilight zone, not dead, but not alive, either. The alchemy that must take place for a fertilised egg, whether frozen or fresh, to become a full human being can ONLY take place within her.

    Prolife activists would like to dispense with any acknowledgment of this fact, while at the same time, securing ALL the wombs, will ye or nil ye. On the other hand, when a woman DOES venture to undertake this mission of human alchemy, full willingly, there is no one on earth who can do more for the life of her child in those nine months than she can. I would that she would do it freely, every single time.

  288. David,
    another part of me wonders if Bernie would’ve become (or will become) another Jimmy Carter, overwhelmed by the office and not good at playing politics to get things done. Carter, if you will remember, was elected after Nixon’s resignation as the good Baptist Sunday school teacher who would “never lie to us.” Something tells me that Bernie might end up the same–overwhelmed by the office and unable to twist some arms or do the charm offensive.
    @DT,
    well, in a way, it’s already different this time, because Trump ran strictly on an “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” platform when the “economy” was doing well, and all the pundits were baffled at his popularity–“but the economy is doing so well, where is his support coming from?” was a common refrain during the election. You must realize that the official economic figures are fudged so much now that they don’t mean anything, and if Trump can protect his supporters economically, then the official economy can do pretty much whatever it wants and he’ll probably get reelected.

  289. @David,
    in a nutshell, I wonder if Bernie isn’t naive and wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the office the same way Carter did. Political experience isn’t necessarily an indicator of fitness. Carter was a governor, and lots of governors have made successful presidents.

  290. Not so much a prediction for 2019 as a statement of the obvious: weather is going to continue to shift, morph, and confuse.

    I was just out walking about my community, thinking, “What a lovely late-March day we are having here in early January!”

  291. @ Scotlyn

    Re the on-going discussion of abortion betwixt you, isabelcooper, and I

    Your reference to human alchemy was rather beautiful and evocative, I must say. Yes, I do agree: those who remove the bearer of the womb from the issue entirely do a mis-service and therefore miss an vital element to the equation. It is a messy and not-clear-cut thing, attempting to find a reasonable middle ground between conflicting rights. Would that every pregnancy were intentional and welcome. Alas, we all know that is not the case. Hopefully, at some point, our society will be able to find a workable solution, perhaps along the lines of what we’ve been discussing here.

    @Shane

    Re Sanders and Carter

    I’ve always thought of Carter as one of our more honorable Presidents of recent times, actually. Certainly, a better human being than Saint Kennedy. Yet, he is seen as an abject failure. I’d rather have one term of a good President doing the right things for the right reasons, and seen as a failure, than a “successful” two-term President (*cough* Obama *cough*) who perpetuated the status quo. So, if those are the choices, I’ll take Sanders for four years, most certainly. Of course, I’d prefer a two-term President who’d move us in the right direction, which would include a certain decentralization of our governance, but I think the odds are low for that at present.

  292. John—

    Understanding you are on break but re your oft-repeated assessment that the Right looks for allies while the Left looks for heretics

    I’m seeing a fair amount of chatter in this run-up to the 2020 election that seems to point to a pre-emptive strike, one might say, against Sanders re how his 2016 campaign was rife with sexism (the “Berniebros” of yesteryear fame). While I certainly don’t endorse the platform he has proposed 100% (far too much centralization for my taste), I do think that of the present leftward candidates, Sanders represents the best chance of a) getting elected and b) actually addressing some of our core issues in this coming post-American age.

    The knives are out, one might say, and I’m wondering where we are going to end up when it is all said and done.

  293. One more prediction for 2019 (and 2020)

    While it is very possible that Trump might be impeached, and in theory removed from office (if enough Republicans sought to trade him out for Pence), the “double impeachment/removal” of the executive branch sought by Democrats isn’t going to happen for the simple reason that no senatorial Republican is going to make Nancy Pelosi president of the United States. So the next two years will be an interesting spectacle, to say the least.

  294. The Southwest has has a freezing cold snap this past week or so, hitting even Phoenix! (poor babies)and Las Vegas! While Alaska has been having warm (for Alaska) weather, and so has our fellow mile-high city, Denver.

  295. @DT,
    another thing regarding Trump, besides how much official economic indicators actually affect his supporters: how much he gets blamed for the downturn, and if he’s seen as effectively addressing the issue. IIRC, Reagan won reelection after a severe recession b/c the electorate had more faith in his ability to handle/fix the problem.
    One thing I’m surprised people haven’t mentioned regarding protecting American jobs and impeding trade: demetrication. Being a free country, you can’t exactly OUTLAW the metric system, but you can make customary units the only official, legally recognized units, and begin to demetricate things like medicine, etc. that have already been metricated. There is almost always a customary unit that can be used in place of any metric unit. By having our own unique system of measurement and requiring anyone wanting to do business w/us to use it, we erect a trade barrier to metric nations wishing to trade w/us. Want to sell your metrically measured goods in our nation, umm, no thank you, metric is not legally recognized for trade here–it must be in a round or fractional customary unit here. That’s a BIG part of the reason why organized labor was so opposed to the metric system.

  296. Congratulations on your prescient 2018 predictions. A couple of comments. It seems to me that Obama started the process of US retreat from global hegemony into a multipolar world with Iran deal? That now has been reversed. You have not really mentioned Iran in your blog. In your opinion, is the US really retreating or consolidating what’s left of its global reach to strike Iran?

    My opinion is that it was the tax cuts and to a smaller extent deregulation that resulted in manufacturing increases in 2018. These gains were costly, as the deficit last year topped over $1,000,000,000,000. The trade deficit has actually increased since tarriffs were put into place. If the trade war escalates in 2019, it will likely dump the US and Chinese economies into recession, reversing any gains. Also, It is a mischaracterization that mainstream Democrats support open borders. The Obama administration also enforced the southern border vigorously. This is not just my opinion, this was something Steve Bannon stated as well. Net migration with Mexico was negative by about 300k during the Obama administration. I do think you are correct in your analysis that immigration undercuts US labor. I don’t have the numbers, but have seen evidence of this in the many temp jobs I have had. That being said, the right’s framing of border issue is insane. It is cynically being used by Fox News, right-wing radio to scare people to make rich people richer through more tax cuts. Ironically, we are more likely to be gunned down by a right-winger, radicalized by hate radio than a foreigner. And a $25,000,000,000 wall would not likely be an effective deterrent to ladders, tunnels and drugs catapulted over. Your comments and support for immigration restriction are legitimate, but unfortunately that is not how the argument is being framed by the right.

    Also, It would be interesting getting your thoughts on Brazil. I have always thought that the US would start to look more and more like Brazil as it retreated from global hegemony since the demographics, land area and population sizes are very similar. It seems that Bolsonaro and the US GOP are now a perfect match to share hemispheric dominance. The parrellels are striking. What is happenning to BrazilIan democracy in the next couple of years under Bolsonaro will quite possibly happen to the US in the next decade. I know that right wingers and libertarians in the US would rally behind an overthrow of the Venezuelan government. It would be a very popular war with their respective bases if the US and Brazil could make a deal with Russia and China to not get involved. Do you think that is a possibility for 2019 or 2020?

  297. @Just Me – thank you for the two Deena Metzger essays. I never encountered her before, and they are very powerful.

  298. Since we’re chatting to occupy ourselves during our host’s well-earned holiday, here’s an article finally saying what has been discussed here at such great length for several years:

    “What the Roman story shows is that in a republic that’s old, where people have a lot of faith in that republican system, people like Donald Trump pop up every generation or so when things reach a tipping point. You have these cycles where the system reboots, and people are shocked by what happened, and they step back and allow things to fall back into some sort of normal rhythm before they get frustrated again.

    And I think this is the cycle that is perhaps most scary. If the decline of a republic is something that doesn’t take five years, but instead takes 50 years, or 70 years, or 120 years, Trump is likely not the last of these kinds of figures.”

    https://www.vox.com/2019/1/1/18139787/rome-decline-america-edward-watts-mortal-republic

  299. All – My major prediction for 2019, is that the new, higher standard tax deduction, will pull the rug out from under a vast number of small charities. Big donors will still exceed the threshold, but organizations that rely on small donations (such as local churches, animal shelters, and I’m not sure what else) will discover that people who get to claim “a deduction” without documenting it are going to realize this when they add up their contributions for 2018 and discover that they don’t affect the tax bill. By mid-year, small-donor charities will be desperate. By early next year, a notable number will close.

    A second prediction is that some prominent climate scientist (or several) will be revealed to have “behaved inappropriately” by the new standards of the “#MeToo” movement, and be forced to give up their positions. (The possible involvement of people paid by industries threatened by action against climate change will be revealed much later, and ruled irrelevant.) This prediction is possibly inspired by seeing a documentary “King in the Wilderness” which described the FBI’s attempts to discredit Martin Luther King.

  300. @Ace: Thank You, I agree with your assessments from most of what I have heard and read. I don’t know if you missed it, but our gracious host is on holiday this month, so he most likely won’t be able to get back to you. He is, apparently still putting our comments through so we can chat amongst ourselves.

    Just some updates for those who may not know – Air travel: This week and next are the weeks all the out of state or long distance college kids go back to school. It’s a peak travel time. The airports are a disaster with the Govt. shut-down. TSA employees are on a skeleton crew and not getting paid apparently. Airports are advising passengers to be there 5 hours ahead of their flights. My nephew flew out this morning and a ton of connecting passengers missed their connections. Not sure if this had to do with TSA, but the airport staff did blame the shut-down and lack of personnel. I’ve also heard airport employees are also on a skeleton crew in solidarity, however that seems unlikely to me. It’s hitting the middle class, at least in this inconvenience. OTOH: I’ve also heard that something like 85% of the Govt. workers and contract employees, now not getting paid are registered democrats, so I doubt their plight will matter to our President.

    @David, re: the 2020 democratic election chatter – yes, I agree, the candidates stepping or even inching forward are like clay pigeons being shot down by their own party as they come out as potential candidates. It’s really pathetic. Again on CNN, (I volunteer to keep y’all informed as from what most of you have said, you don’t follow them, he-he) the last 3 days they’ve been raking Elizabeth Warren over the coals for failing to handle President Trump’s twitter barrage (on her Native American heritage) deftly enough. She had the DNA test done and publicly announced the results in the middle of midterm madness. “What a nerd, we can’t possibly vote for someone who can’t P-own the Prez in a twitter-war. Priorities, people, priorities!”

  301. All – PS to my “small charities will fail” prediction: I neglected to mention, as examples of charities at risk: “public radio / TV stations, educational funds managed by professional societies, small colleges, and special-interest charities (such as the March of Dimes, ARRL)”. Back in the late 1970s, the public radio stations I listened to went off the air around 11 PM, coming back on around 6 AM. We may see that again.

  302. David: re your sarcastic comment about “Saint Kennedy” – a song for him and for many another president in our history:

  303. @David,
    call me old fashioned, but I’d rather have a ball-buster like FDR or LBJ who’s willing to twist some arms or worse to get his agenda through…

  304. David by the Lake, Scotlyn and isabelcooper

    I would generally support the abortion scheme proposed by David, it is in essence the one that generally prevails in most Australian states. However, I note that it does depend critically upon access to good medical resources. I have wondered, somewhat morbidly, what the morality of child bearing will look like in a dark age. Even into the first half of the 20th Century, Australian authorities tacitly allowed discreet infanticides at birth by midwives and mothers in slum/working class areas. Indigenous Australians living traditional lifestyles reportedly had very high infanticide rates, similar to most other hunter-gatherer societies. Perhaps access to effective contraceptive knowledge will help to reduce the need, in the future.

  305. Rita

    Regarding fires, the contrast between the Australian official response to wildfires and the US one is interesting. The US seems to rely solely upon evacuations. We’ve found that in potential firestorm conditions this is very dangerous, even without people who ‘evacuate’ through active flame areas. Our research indicates that the highest risk of death comes from late evacuation – winding roads, roads blocking up, vehicles stopping in the heat, fires spotting ahead on the wind and the lack of protection once outside from the radiant heat of the front. Once you can see flames or smoke, it’s too late to evacuate in most conditions.

    In Australia we’re encouraged to ‘prepare and defend’ or leave early to an urban area (where early means the day before or by 6am on every day with extreme conditions – 20 days last Summer) and not return until about 9pm or at all if a fire is in the district. With preparation a well-built and defended rural house is very survivable in a firestorm whereas in suburban areas even an unprepared standard brick veneer will generally survive provided there are a couple of adults to extinguish embers. It is drilled into us that the main fire front will only take around 5-10 minutes to pass – so you just have to extinguish embers inside and out up to that point, then actively shelter during the front, then go out to keep extinguishing embers. If the house does catch during the front then you still shelter inside for as long as possible (near an exit), then escape onto already burnt ground.

    I have survived two firestorms now, though in both cases the main flame front bypassed the house I was defending by a few hundred metres. They are incredibly scary, but I think I still prefer bushfires for natural disasters compared to earthquakes or tsunamis.

  306. @Caryn Banker. Thanks, I did see that, and wasn’t sure if he would respond or not. I think that it is so impressive that JMG actually reads and responds to the 1,000s of the comments he gets. He absolutely deserves a break.

  307. @ Caryn

    Re 2020 sniping

    Those circular firing squads can be quite effective! I suspect that, in the end, we’ll be left with an establishment character (e.g. Biden) or an establishment character who checks off an appropriate number of identity boxes (e.g. Booker, Harris). What we *won’t* have is anyone remotely resembling a leftward version of the economic nationalism Trump brought to the fore, nor anyone actually willing to retreat from our empire while we still have time to do so in a managed fashion.

    @ Patricia

    Re lustful presidents

    Certainly, Carter is more the exception and Kennedy, et alia more the rule. This likely has something to do with the type of men who seek that kind of power. It will be interesting to see if there is a parallel pattern that plays out on the flip-side, once we’ve a number of data points re female presidents, or if there is some other foible that will tend to rise to the surface.

    @ Shane

    I can appreciate the need to get things done; however, to me, it is important to do so via logic and persuasion rather than threats and intimidation. To get people to go along in the long-term, one needs buy-in, not merely compliance. Plus, and this is just a personal preference admittedly, I prefer leaders who respect the rules and their fellow citizens.

    Moreover, a democracy is very a fragile thing. Bending the rules to get things done may work well in the short-run, but tend to undermine the foundation of democratic governance. Democracies can and will do “wrong” things, even stupid things, but the appropriate response is not to overturn the governance of the system and impose one’s own view, but to allow others to go their way while you go yours to the extent you need to (up to and including secession from the society). Each side has bent the rules to achieve its favored ends and this is where we’ve ended up. When the language of the Constitution means whatever one wants it to say, rather than something objective, then it ends up meaning nothing at all.

  308. Speaking of abortion, and noting that the Brexit issue is a bigger deal, now that the Republic of Ireland has legalized abortion, Northern Ireland remains as the only place in Ireland and the UK where abortion is totally illegal. This is causing some consternation among MPs in Westminster. Oddly enough, Northern Ireland is about as bad as the US on the fundamentalist front. Very religious. A lot of creationists, just like the US

  309. Michelle – Back about a decade or so ago, John Maddox Roberts was writing his SPQR murder mysteries, and Steven Saylor his Roma Sub Rosa ones, both set in what I, as a fan of Fourth Turning, promptly called “The Dying Republic Saeculum.” The parallels were not only instantly clear, but wouldn’t Clodia have made a marvelous flapper? BTW, Roberts’ take and hero are conservative, and Saylor’s, leftist; one is a minor aristocrat and the other is essentially a P.I. Of course I then read up on Roman history, or why I call a certain president “Crassus.” Anyway, good starting points for those not up for a textbook on the period. Do beware of historical inaccuracies: Roman galleys were rowed by hired free men not slaves, frex.

    Saylor’s picture of Lucius Cornelius Sulla is vivid and telling, especially when he tells Cicero “I am an old fox, and I know another fox when I see one.”

  310. Dear Dominique, many of us in the USA have not been having a decent life in the past decades because of prices. Do not believe the official figures re inflation. There has been inflation of tsunami proportions in such non-discretionary expenses as rent and necessary utilities. I define necessary utilities as those amenities without which you cannot hope to make a believable job interview or keep a sick child alive–heat, electricity and running water. The Powers that (insert name of disgusting personal habit of choice here) along with and supported by their multicultural allies, I might add, won’t hear of rent controls and turn a blind eye to private ownership of utilities ( the infrastructure for which was built by American working people at taxpayer expense).

    $15./hr. minimum wage is a necessary measure but won’t do me a darn bit of good if the landlord can turn around and raise the rent to his or her customarily 50% minimum of a renter’s income.

    Dear Shane W, about the left and wet noodles, that can be explained by the fact, I do regard it as proven fact, that the Democratic Party is no longer a political party by any meaningful definition but has instead become a vast patronage machine. Mme. Clinton’s program, if you can call it that, was essentially, stick with me and I will make sure you are taken care of.

    As for peaceful dissolution, of course it has been known to happen. One could reference Slovakia and the Czech Republic or Norway and Sweden for recent examples. I just don’t think it is likely to happen here. Everyone, foreign or domestic, who has commercial and financial interests in the USA, will be stirring the pot for all they are worth. American public land is a splendid prize don’t forget, and then there is the matter of 20% of the world’s most valuable resource. I am convinced that breakaway Midwest, or a rump USA, will be quickly incorporated into Canada in order to protect that resource.

    Speaking of which, I am cynically convinced that one motive for the continuing shutdown is that Trump has “deals” in the works to sell of public lands which all of a sudden we won’t be able to afford to maintain.

  311. @Scotlyn

    “May I have your permission to hang your names in my blessing tree, as a way to ask for strength to your intentions?”

    We would be delighted to be added to your blessing tree. We will gladly accept as many blessings as are offered, from as many entities as possible!

    I’m assuming you need our actual names? If so where should I send them?

  312. @Nastarana,
    if the US decides to pull a “Yankee” and try forcibly keep a seceding area in the Union, they will be facing guerilla warfare. I just don’t think the US has the appetite to repeat Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan on domestic soil. Remember, wars are fought by flesh and blood soldiers.
    If you’ll remember, I’ve speculated that once the US falls apart, Canada will be the stronger nation and will stabilize the Great Lakes area, but this hits hard against Canada’s inferiority complex vis a vis its southern neighbor. The Canadians on here get VERY uncomfortable at any suggestion that they could stabilize the Great Lakes area, and will tick off any number of Canadian disadvantages (population, etc.) as to why they can’t stabilize the Great Lakes area. Who knows once push comes to shove, though.

  313. @David,
    elbow twisting has been there from the beginning, and was certainly a major part of politics during America’s golden age in the middle of last century, when so much infrastructure was built and living standards were highest. FDR, Truman, LBJ, Kennedy all knew how to get down and get things done. As JMG, democracy is not a perfect system, but it sure beats the alternatives. A certain amount of corruption is just baked into the cake. Had Carter been able to play politics more, he would have been more successful and might have successfully beat Reagan and stopped the wrong turn we took in 1980.

  314. @Nastarana,
    IDK if you’ve noticed, but Canadians here on the list assure us that Canada is going to go bat shale crazy if the US falls apart. I don’t see why they can’t “Keep Calm and Carry On”, but they assure us that that is the order of things. Considering how they responded to Trump, I think they may be onto something. In some ways, Trump elicited a stronger reaction north of the border than here in the US.

  315. BTW, I’d be glad to share the “Consent to Secede” letter I wrote and sent the House and Senate leadership in my state to those of you all in red America…

  316. I’m astonished people would consider voting for Bernie or Hillary due to their ages. In my opinion, the last election was their last shot. Bernie would be nearly 80, for God’s sake. Hillary certainly has some mysterious health problem(s) but even without that, she’ll be 74 at the start.

  317. I predict that living in the present will be the best way to stay somewhat close to sane. I predict that this will be difficult to do. I predict that something not yet predicted will happen. I also predict that Earth will continue to spin on her axis once a day and circle Sol once a year. I’m not so sure about Luna and her cycle.

  318. @ Lathechuck

    I’ve been wondering the same thing about small charities. The expanded standard deduction, coupled with the cap on state and local deductions, means many fewer people will itemize and get any tax benefit from charitable contributions. 2018 will be the first time we take the standard deduction in over two decades. I wonder if charities dependent on small contributions should tell potential donors to take the reduced tax benefits into account, but request that they still donate what they can. For example, if someone is in the 22% Federal bracket, they can still donate $78 and be no worse off than a deductible $100 contribution. Maybe charities dependent on moderate income donors can try to get out in front of this issue to minimize revenue loss.

    @ Patricia Matthews

    The History Unfolding link you provided was well worth reading. Thank you.

  319. With regard to what Shane W says above and after this evening’s near comical, utterly ridiculous and pathetically inept “presidential” address regarding some supposed “crisis”, I further predict that the 2020 Republican convention will either be a circular firing squad for the Fascist Wanna Bes (FWBs) or a long parade of FWB back stabbing, which means that the guy (or gal) at the back will be the new face. It’s hard to see how T’s flimflam can continue much longer. The interesting part will be how he’s removed, gracefully or Mussolini style.

  320. Well, I guess Ocasio-Cortez is the darling now, and is showing the direction things are heading. She used that empty cold prickly “racist” about Trump, so I guess 2020 will descend into SJW antics, considering Bernie’s “metoo” and “racist” problems…

  321. Predictions, though for 2020 rather than 2019

    I’m seeing the 2020 primary races be the inverse, in some ways, of the 2016 nomination contests: that is, a crowded field of contestants on the left, and two on the right. I don’t doubt that Trump will face a primary challenge from the Old Guard quarter, although whether or not it succeeds is an open question. But the Democrats are shaping up to have the problem of “how do we get all these podiums on the stage?” this time around. Quite fascinating, really.

    @ Shane

    Re forcible politicking and the like

    I understand that some amount of that is necessary, but believe that the amount of it employed should be no more than the minimum required. This is yet another reason I would not make for a very effective politician at anything above the local level. I don’t care for the nastier aspects of the process.

  322. JackRavenCorvus – Watch Mitt Romney. I speculate that he may be positioning himself to give Trump an easy way out of the Presidency, if it comes to that. Trump may decide not to run in 2020, especially if he thinks that the office is more likely to stay in Republican hands that way. He’s won the election game, made his mark on history, and might be ready to retire in two more years.

  323. To no one in particular – just another sign of cluelessness: my local public library newsletter announces that they have “The Martha Manual: How to do (Almost) Everything”, by Martha Stewart. By “(almost) everything”, they mean, of course, every entertainment of the idle rich. “…from organizing, decorating, cleaning, and caring for your home and garden to celebrating, hosting and achieving career goals.”

    Chapter 1: “How to … let them eat cake.”

  324. @JackRavenCorvus

    I suspect you may be new to this blog, so I want to point out that, back in the previous (ADR) blog, JMG had a series of posts explaining exactly what Fascism was and was not. These posts can be found here:

    Fascism and the Future, Part One: Up From Newspeak
    Fascism and the Future, Part Two: The Totalitarian Center
    Fascism and the Future, Part Three: Weimar America

    The point of these articles is that the word “Fascism” has a specific meaning, and it is not the meaning commonly assumed. Likewise, “Socialism” (according to Marx’s own definition) means state (government) ownership, operation and control of all means of production – period. The New Deal was not socialist, nor is the economy of any West European or Scandinavian country. The correct term for those economies is “Social Democracy” which is NOT classic socialism.

    Nowadays, words like “Fascism” and “Socialism” are used as “snarl words” rather than as accurate descriptors. JMG has worked very hard to put precision into political discourse on this blog, and I appreciate and honor his efforts in this respect.

    Now, as for Trump, I can see things going a number of different ways.

    First, if the economy tanks, Trump is toast. He has claimed credit for recent good times, and he will be blamed for any downturn.

    Second, if the Democrats refuse to learn from their defeat in 2016, and continue to double down on the strategies which lost them that election, Trump may win a second term in spite of his glaring faults.

    Finally, if the Democrats have an attack of sanity, and actually run an appealing ticket (e.g., Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii), they may have a serious shot at the White House in 2020. Time will tell.

  325. Shane W. said, ” Remember, wars are fought by flesh and blood soldiers.” I wish it were true, but in today’s world of drones, robitics, and AI, I have my doubts.

  326. Dear Shane W, if it were just a matter of Americans agreeing to disagree possibly there could be a peaceful dissolution, but I think you seriously underestimate the amount foreign meddling which would be involved–sure, turn about being fair play and all. There is simply too much at stake, especially with regard with what remains of the natural resources of North America for any great or emergent power to be able to stand aside and allow things to play out.

    I still think Trump gets his wall, one way or another. What I don’t understand is why the Democrats don’t call his bluff about the $USB5. Sure, Mr. Pres., you can have your wall, but the Army Corps will build it and whatever company was promised the contract gets zilch.

    I saw a shop front yesterday for hemp products, including for medicinal use. Everyone who can get some relief of pain or other symptoms from hemp oil is another vote for Trump in 2020. The Democrats could have done this, legalize hemp, years ago and couldn’t be bothered.

  327. @Nastarana,
    being as you’re from the Yankee, Puritan part of the country, I don’t think you understand the role decadence plays in the culture of the South. The South is decadent in the same way that Latin America is. “Let the Good Times Roll”, as its onetime largest city says. It was the decadence of the antebellum South that the Puritan North was railing against in the buildup to the War Between the States. Puritanism came late to the South, during the horrors of Reconstruction, and it never was indigenous the way it was to the North. There’s a kinship of culture between the South and Latin America, which is why the Confederados fled to Brazil. I could easily see future Confederate cities hosting decadent parades and festivals during “Judah P Benjamin Month”, complete w/rainbow bunting everywhere, while the fuddy-duddy, Puritan North remains as somber as a Victorian lady.

  328. Uh – Chuck – “organizing and cleaning and caring for your home and garden” was never an activity to be scorned, though it historically has been dismissed as “trivia left to women.” Dismissed by guys many of whom would scream bloody murder if his things weren’t ready to hand and the meals not ready and to his liking.

    Though, that said, Martha Stewart was always aiming at the aspirational idle rich, just as Cosmopolitan has for decades been a trade journal for aspiring courtesans, and all of those magazines are written by the advertising departments. So? Ever since Home Economics was dropped as unnecessary and obsolete (since now we have a booming market in telling women what they need to do) these things do fill some sort of gap. Very badly, of course. But I’m afraid you were shooting ducks in a bathtub there. As well blame a lapdog for not being able to hunt.

  329. @JackRavenCorvus:

    Hmmm, I disagree. Even in the best of times, We Democrats are like herding cats, (and quite proud of that – independent thinking and all, 😉 ); Whereas the Republicans do tend to stick to the program, (IMHO, it’s in the nature of conservatism) whatever that program is. We do tend to poo-pooh this as NOT independently thinking/marching in lock-step, but it has proven a winning strategy for them repeatedly. As Shane has said – the Dems are already shooting each candidate like clay pigeons as they come out. One of the draw-backs on our side is the tendency to fall into the circular firing squad and purity tests, wherein the good is very much the enemy of the perfect. And no one is perfect.

    I am hopeful and excited by all of the new blood in the House and in the 2020 arena, but even with the effect of campaign competition, (it’s natural for competitors for the Primary to shoot each other down at some point) – I see this as a bad move. The Democratic Party is obviously changing, the old guard is fading out and a new vibrant guard of more extreme Progressives and Social Democrats is pushing it’s way in, and best of all it is happening via the electorate/constituents promoting politicians more in line with their thinking and values. I think this is a good thing, but I doubt we will be cohesive enough by 2020 to defeat Trump.

    And lastly – Also to Patricia Matthews: Yes the History Unfolding article was very good. Thank You!
    I suspect that our, (Dems) tendency towards this purity testing and circular firing squad are somehow related to the shift from representing the poor and working classes and marginalised groups towards a much narrower set of identity politics only, (representing and benefiting a small number of ‘chosen’ or elite-potential individuals that kind of represent marginalised groups and giving lip service to the issues and concerns that affect the most vulnerable masses of them/us). Well, that and other reasons we all know.

    Cheers,

  330. For any who might be interested here is a talk from Dr. Victor Hanson about Trump as disruptor.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CaRK_O5GM0

    I hasten to add that I am not in general a fan of VDH, who wrote a book entitled The Other Greeks–he is a noted classicist. You all do get that, right, all us ignoramuses out here think that Classical Greece consisted of Athens, Sparta, Corinth and we might possibly have heard of Syracuse. Most writers who despise their readerships wait until at least the first chapter before insulting the people who buy their books; VDH manages to express his contempt on the title page of his tome.

    I also see the description ‘tragic hero’ as a bit exaggerated. I consider the life and career of Richard Nixon to have been a genuine American tragedy (there is a very interesting account of Nixon in one of Stephen L. Carter’s novels, BTW) Trump I see as the proverbial bull in the china shop, put there by an electorate fed up with an upper class and its’ sycophants which continuously insulted and abused it.

    Shane W, I come from the Pacific Northwest, not Yankeedom. You do know that most of New England was heavily involved in slave trading, do you not? It is true that “southerners” were much disliked in the PNW; I can still remember my mother sneering about “southern ladies”, by which she meant women who had domestic servants and never, in her view, lifted a finger to do anything for themselves.

  331. This is more in line with the spiritual/occult aspects of this blog than the ecological/political, but an interesting recent experience of mine:

    My wife had expressed her desire to get an Echo Dot for use in the basement, where she has a partial art studio, for music access. (She’d had an Amazon Music subscription already from her property, just recently sold, which had been used as her studio.) While I had always said that her property was hers, I had generally demurred at getting Alexa in our home, largely on principle. (I avoid Amazon whenever possible.) So, of course, even though I said I was willing to compromise and go along with her getting a Dot, she wanted to know what my issues were and we got into a whole long discussion re Amazon and its economic impacts, labor practices, and the like.

    And what shows up the next day? My next issue of Into The Ruins, in Amazon packaging. And what shows up today? The extra copies of Vintage Worlds I ordered, in an Amazon box.

    Even I, with the densest of skulls, can see when the forces of the Cosmos are sending me a message. (And one which I was given a while ago in a particular meditation session, when Whomever She May Be clearly told me: “The things you think are important are inconsequential and the things that are actually important you miss entirely.”)

    Okay, then. I get it. I don’t understand it, but I get it.

  332. Patricia – I don’t blame Martha Stewart for writing a book and calling it “how to do (almost) everything”. I just expected more from my library and my neighborhood than to make it noteworthy. Well, no, actually, I didn’t expect more of them, but it’s their cluelessness that I object to, rather than Martha Stewart’s.

    I doubt that Martha Stewart’s idea of a “garden” has much in common with my varmint-ravaged vegetable patch. My parents, and my 4-H club, made sure that I had a solid grounding in “Home Economics”, and I have nothing but respect for people who do it well. Do you suppose Martha’s section on cooking describes how to get by on the “USDA Thrifty” food plan ($88/week for two adults).

    Sometimes I rant to my wife about just some of the things that you cannot use “all-purpose flour” for: potting soil, kitty litter, fire extinguisher, etc. Similarly, we could make a long, long list of tasks unlikely to be described in Martha’s “How To” book: install Linux on a PC, skin a squirrel, sharpen a saw, differentiate a polynomial, etc., etc.

  333. @Copeland – please feel free to write to me at the digital postbox operated by google, under the call sign “scotlyn DOT s AT” etc. 🙂

  334. John Michael,

    The Baffler has posted an interesting article by Ben Ehrenreich investigating the roots and genealogy of the progress myth. By tracing the influence of several overlooked French writers, he highlights the myth’s role in justifying/obscuring European exceptionalism and racial domination. Ehrenreich appears to have been strongly influenced by your writing as the following quote attests:

    “But the task of denuding the natural world of agency and divinity was apparently an important one, and could not be neglected. For the grand procession of progress to march, the stage had to first be cleared of rivals. All the world must be dead, and man alone alive, rushing to the glory of his fate.”

    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/after-the-storm-ehrenreich

  335. The Ehrenreich article blew me away. I wonder if the author is related to writer Barbara Ehrenreich. Thanks for sending it! And I never knew Athena’s eyes were considered frightening by the Greeks. But if they were generally dark-eyed, it must have been something like the Japanese equation of red hair with being a fox spirit.

  336. Pushing conventional people into the arms of the witches …. hah!

    My friend Joanna was diagnoses with strep throat and urged me to see a doctor *immediately*. The first appointment – *after* mentioning strep throat – would be Tuesday morning. Do Joanna made me up some capsules of meem (neem? That is a healing herb) flowers and activated charcoal with instructions on taking them, as she did herself. If I’m no longer sick by Tuesday, and this happens again, I’ll see Joanna first.

  337. Back to the politics 😉

    Much recent brouhaha about AOC, her disruption/cluelessness (depending on one’s establishment ties, it seems) and the efforts being made to “reign in” the leftward rebels. It is a hard lesson on dealing with the Old Guard, among others things: once Pelosi is Speaker, she has no need for these people (or so the establishment thinks) and they can be slapped down appropriately when they step out of line. I hope the rebels have none of that and keep at it. A leftward “TEA party” rebellion in the House would be enjoyable to watch, if only for the schadenfreude.

    Gabbard announced recently for President, which will also bear watching. The reaction in the Dem camp was sadly predictable.

    @Patricia

    Re Alexa alternatives

    Thank you for that!

  338. I’d be glad to share my “consent to secede” letters to anyone in red America. just drop a “not for posting” line w/your email, and when it gets fwd’ed, I’ll send it to you.

  339. This just in: Tulsi’s running. I share Onething’s concerns about Bernie’s age, so I’d be inclined to support Tulsi on age alone, IF she’s equal to Bernie on the issues (can’t capitalize or italicize that enough). Honestly, I think Trump could be the first president to die in office if he gets a second term. He’s the oldest president we’ve had, and he doesn’t take good care of himself.

  340. @Nastarana,
    Joel Garreau argues in the Nine Nations of North America that the West Coast represents a transplanted form of Puritanism, save Southern California, which is more mixed in its influences. IIRC, a lot of the leading families of the Southland, including the Chandlers of Los Angeles Times fame, were transplanted Confederates. It certainly would explain a lot of the “shining city on a hill” utopianism of the Bay Area and other West Coast cities.

  341. @David,
    what do you make of Tulsi vs. Bernie on the issues? Whom do you prefer? Also, what do you make of AOC’s support of MMT and liberally using the worthless “r-word”? Does this mean she will get bogged down in the SJW McCarthyism?

  342. I don’t think Trump is not running. I think that is wishful thinking. He’s not going to hand off to milquetoast like Romney. He’s fulfilling all his campaign promises aiming @ running for a second term. Besides, if he can get lifelong Democrats and (former) progressives like me & David BTL on his side, it’ll be like FDR. If the Dems nominate an establishment candidate, then I’m all in for the Trump campaign–phone banking, pavement pounding, office manager, campaign captain, whatever.

  343. @ Shane

    Re AOC, Gabbard, and Sanders

    I see the primary benefit of AOC as being her focus on some of the right issues, even if she brings the wrong solutions, and most importantly the heart-burn and disruption she causes the establishment of the Democratic Party. MMT is a mirage and a fools’ errand, however, and to my mind represents nothing more than the old trick of currency devaluation dressed up in fancy verbiage. We need to understand that once the dollar fades as a reserve currency, we are going to have to make hard choices. (Preferably, we’d start making those hard choices earlier, like now, but all of us on this blog here know it isn’t going to happen until we are forced to.). But, if this freshman congresswoman can shake up things enough that we start talking about things like sustainability, the working people of this country, and similar issues in something other than a token fashion, that is a good thing. And if the old guard can get tossed out on their ear in the meantime, more power to her.

    I like Gabbard’s anti-war stance. If she were to advocate the reduction/closure of our overseas bases and the withdrawal from our foreign conflicts as a key part of her campaign, I would have have to give her serious consideration. The thing I liked about Sanders in ‘16 was his economic nationalism, which mirrored (and was a preferable version of) Trump’s. Ideally, I’d like an anti-war candidate with an economic nationalist platform and a focus on sustainable self-reliance, but odds are I’m going to have to compromise. I need to learn more about Gabbard and I want to see if Sanders will adjust his penchant for centralized solutions at all, but at this point one of the two of them would be my vote in the primary.

  344. Ooh, this just came across my browser… https://dailycaller.com/2019/01/14/smoke-out-resistance/?fbclid=IwAR1-jlTvUE-hzV_m_528Xr7cp-ZjbuO7UTOlhZX6-Q5JRdUPkoqSzkiiEBk

    “As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

    Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

    The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

    On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.”

    It goes on from there. Very, very interesting!

  345. @David,
    what do you make of AOC getting co-opted by SJW’s, now, it’s all about her red lipstick, hoop earrings, white pantsuit and what this means about Latina empowerment, and she’s not exactly helping things by tossing around the empty verbal noise “racist”. Not exactly a way to keep things class focused and make common cause w/the white working class.

  346. Re something completely different

    To the extent that our extended discussion here has morphed into an “open post,” I’d like to comment on an interesting (internal) experience of recent occurrence.

    As those Ecosphians residing in the US might recall, Monday night a week ago was the NCAA football championship pitting Clemson again Alabama. In what I believe is their fourth such meeting, Clemson tied the series up at 2-2 by completely dismantling Alabama 44-16.

    This made me a very happy camper as a (multiple) alumnus of Clemson (from the decade of the 1990s). Although I admittedly do not follow the sports teams at all, this was a pretty big deal. Additionally, my parents are alumni of Auburn, so any day Alabama gets thoroughly humiliated like that is a good day.

    Of course, the only thing the talking heads have been talking about in the wake of that event has been the Clemson team, coach, and players. Specifically, the young (I do believe freshman) quarterback who was quite dominant during the game. What brought my mind around to this blog was a comment I saw by one sports analyst about how Clemson’s QB was good enough to go pro if it weren’t for those darn NCAA eligibility rules. And I’m thinking to myself about how are host has noted the now-blatant use of college athletics as a farming system for pro athletics and I ask myself: but he’s in college…oughtn’t his focus be on, I don’t know, getting an education of some kind?

    So my jubilation aside, the erosion of our post-secondary education system continues apace. In related other news, the folding of the local two-year campus into the structure of UW Green Bay is now complete and the re-branding signage and adverts have been popping up around town. Makes me very sad.

  347. O’Rourke just questioned whether our constitution is still suitable for running our country in its present form…
    Gabbard is getting hit with supposedly anti-gay comments she made years back…
    AOC is still very obviously a rookie stateswoman…
    These three are all very sloppy and I don’t think they can articulate enough of a complete platform to be strong candidates.
    One thing that has occurred to me about Sanders is how he stopped standing up to Clinton the moment he lost (was stripped of) the primary. He has good ideas but he is old and I am not sure how much guts he’s got to go against the establishment. Also problematic with the SJW wing.
    Clinton… no way… too toxic…
    Biden… boring establishment pick… right up there with “Jeb!”
    Kamala Harris… probably where things are going. She ticks all the SJW boxes and she can talk her CA progressive bona fides. She’s establishment but not to the degree that she is unidentifiable with the new socialist wing of the Dem party.
    I can see the Dem primary whittling down to Sanders, Biden, and Harris. Except I am not entirely certain that Sanders will run, so it will probably be Biden v. Harris. Both of which are expected to announce their presidential runs by the end of the month.

  348. @ Shane

    Re AOC

    Granted. I’m not saying she’s bringing the right solutions necessarily, and she is certainly being co-opted (as just about everyone is is by someone these days), but any heartburn she gives the Democratic establishment is good by me. I wish the anti-Pelosi rebellion had succeeded, but it was pretty clear from the election results that there weren’t sufficient numbers to withstand the establishment. May AOC and other like her (as she is simply the most well-known of many) disrupt business-as-usual, even if the results won’t manifest this session of Congress.

    For the record, no one on the playing field today is “doing it right,” by my assessment. Everyone, from Sanders on down, has some element of their proposals with which I strongly disagree. (Like I mentioned, what I’m looking for is that anti-war economic nationalist who would bring our military home, raise tariff walls, and introduce resource depletion and automation taxes while decentralizing our governance, dismantling our centralized bureaucracy, and reorienting our economy toward citizen well-being and sustainable self-reliance. I ain’t gonna hold my breath for that package in its entirety.) The question is, what can we get to stick and what parts of what we do need will manage to get through the noise?

    @DT

    Re the Dem prospects

    I am not terribly optimistic about the Dems in 2020. I think they will end up with old-guard (e.g. Biden) or old-guard-in-new-wineskins (e.g. Harris or Booker). Nothing remotely resembling the fundamental changes needed.

  349. @ DT

    Re O’Rourke and the Constitution

    I didn’t see his comment specifically, but I’d agree that our Constitution needs revising, preferably via a convention of the states which cuts Congress completely out of the loop. I see that process as our best chance of making the modifications needed to hold what we can of the Union together as our empire comes unglued. (Things like reigning in the scope of federal power, explicitly defining the Union as a federal republic of semi-autonomous states, providing a legal pathway for secession, introducing congressional term limits, etc. None of this will happen so long as Congress is involved.)

  350. @ Michelle

    Re the federal workforce

    I am a public worker myself, though local and not federal. I think there is more appreciation, generally, the closer one is to the front lines.

    I do think, however, that a thinning of our bloated federal bureaucracy is needed. The shut-down is one means of doing so; not necessarily the best way, but definitely *a* way.

    As SamuraiArtGuy mentioned previously, the Trump administration seems to be doing some things that need doing, but in the worst possible way. But better than nothing at all(?).

    We are in some interesting times, that much is certain.

  351. All –
    News from another corner of “alternative spirituality”, this was recently in the Washington Post (Jan 10, Geoffrey A. Fowler), an article featuring Deepak Chopra at the Consumer Electronics Show:
    ………………
    Chopra, a physician and celebrity wellness adviser, is known for promoting the benefits of meditation — clearing the distractions that clutter the mind. Now he has become a gadget guy, embracing the industry many think is making us less healthy and less happy.

    He collects data on his sleep, his breathing and his stress. He lives in a “smart home” that controls his circadian rhythms through Internet-connected lights. And he thinks all of us should, too. “I think in today’s age everybody is a tech guy. You have to be, otherwise you become irrelevant,” he says..
    ………………..
    “Irrelevant?” To whom? And why is technology-enabled “relevance” desirable?

    Elsewhere in the article, he explains that we’ve disrupted our circadian rhythms with ordinary electric lighting, which lets us work and/or play long after sunset… and his solution is to tint electric lights to simulate the brightness of dawn, and the orange-tinge of sunset. I suppose the idea of getting outside to observe the coming and going of natural light is not economically feasible (in his world).

  352. Lathechuck: when you asked, about Deepak Chopra, “Irrelevant to whom?” I promptly thought “he means ‘unfashionable’.” That is, irrelevant to those who consider themselves cutting edge because they have digitized everything including, probably, their sex life. Shakes head … I am SO glad to be an old biddy and totally irrelevant.

  353. Don’t know if it’s ever been mentioned here before, but there’s a book called The Trouble with Diversity by Walter Benn Michaels that discusses just what’s wrong w/SJW posturing and how it undermines class divisions. Very relevant to a topic that we’ve discussed here ever since JMG’s Rescue Games posts.

  354. Dear David by the Lake, about your post of Jan. 17, at 3:08 pm:

    I think you have presented the platform for an emerging third party, an alliance of responsible (former) Democrats and honest (former) Republicans with the Independents of today. I might state the same or similar principles somewhat differently, but I pretty much agree with you and I think so also would many others. Foreign policy of armed neutrality is what I would say, in other words, Don’t tread on us, and we will leave you alone. To me the fundamental question is are we to have a government based on law or one based on aristocratic privilege, which is what Republicans want, or based on patronage, which is the Democrats preferred alternative.

    The time when a program such as the one you described could gain support might be closer than you think. There seems to me to be a growing sentiment among voters whom the Democrats used to be able to count on that “I’m voting Green” if we don’t see the principles we want. I voted Green for NY gov.–I rather like Andy, but I wasn’t going to vote for him–and blank for NY Senate. I can’t say if similar sentiments exist among Republicans, but I would note the outrage coming from the chans when Trump engaged in what seems to have been a staged “missile strike” against an empty airfield in Syria.

  355. If I were to post what I think of Deepak Chopra, I wouldn’t be surprised if I got sued for defamation or at least severely flamed by his followers.

  356. Re the “bloated” federal workforce:

    I am no fan of bureaucracy or large government, but the current shutdown does nothing to address that. It’s primarily poor working class schmoes on the frontlines who are out of work or required to work without pay, not the upper levels of management who design and implement the bureaucracy. And, 70% of US government is funded and carries on in its functioning (or not). In other words, thinking the shutdown will do anything about federal bloat or lassitude is like taking an antibiotic for the common cold, wishful thinking induced by ignorance.

    If one wished to do something about improving US government, I’d suggest developing a surgical procedure for ego removal and require all prospective office holders and senior civil servants to undergo the surgery. I suppose an intensive course in the appropriate form of meditation may achieve the same results.

  357. It would seem that the Democrats are taking the possible threat from their left, and the Green Party in particularly, rather seriously.

    https://www.blackagendareport.com/house-democrats-hr-1-faking-funk-voting-rights-spreading-fear-and-gunning-greens-2020

    In other news, Mrs. Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has just appointed SJW darling Rep. Ilhan Omar to the House Foreign Affairs committee. IMHO, Rep. Omar ought to be viewed with the gravest suspicion as a CIA/Deep State plant, and this appointment confirms those suspicions. Not a word of question or condemnation from Rep Ilhan can I find about American oversees military adventurism, an issue I would think would be very real to a Moslem lawmaker.

  358. As regards this earlier comment:

    Michael Martin says:
    January 9, 2019 at 6:16 pm
    @JackRavenCorvus

    I suspect you may be new to this blog, so I want to point out that, back in the previous (ADR) blog, JMG had a series of posts explaining exactly what Fascism was and was not. These posts can be found here:

    Fascism and the Future, Part One: Up From Newspeak
    Fascism and the Future, Part Two: The Totalitarian Center
    Fascism and the Future, Part Three: Weimar America

    The point of these articles is that the word “Fascism” has a specific meaning, and it is not the meaning commonly assumed.

    (End quote)

    Thank you for your links regarding the discussion of the use of snarl words. However, you wrong in your suspicions. I have long been an admirer of JMG’s work and have read many of his words, on paper as well as the screen, and have checked in on this site since its beginnings as time and interest have permitted.

    However, from my rereading of the linked articles it is perfectly clear that such words have been used with an amorphous variety of meanings over the years. Much as I personally like words to have a reasonably fixed meaning that is not how language works; words come in and out of fashion and interpretations and usage “evolve” without regard to the feelings of those of us who received a Classical Latin education.

    My use of the expression Fascist Wanna Bes (FWBs) is, I think, within the acceptable use of the abhorred F-word, either in the strict original meaning of the word or its rather sloppy, general purpose term of liberal derision for right-wing delusions of power and grandeur. I can say this because of the modification of “Wanna Bes.” Clearly, we are not in a fully fledged fascist state. However, I think it equally clear that many of those who identify with the Republican Party at this time have tendencies towards a contemporary American version of fascism. You may disagree and at this time I have neither time nor energy to lay out a full argument, and the subject is certainly worthy of lengthy consideration, even lengthier than it has already received.

    However, just as we have the rather derogatory shorthand of SJW used to describe a segment of the Democratic Party, a segment that is surely doing something other than waging war on the interests of the American people, describing at least elements of the Republicans as FWBs seems reasonable given that the driving dogma of the Republicans for some time now, over twenty years at a minimum, has been to attack the interests of the general American population in favor of policies that degrade the environment, elevate the powers of corporations, and deny many of the less fortunate full and equal rights – all while focusing determinedly on a mythical past that, if it ever really existed, is now long ago and would be forgotten by now if it were not for a fully developed propaganda system.

    We generally seem agreed that it’s time for a change. I simply argue that the change should be for the better, not a reversion to the times and thinking that brought us to this sorry state. Naturally, some knowledge of history, human psychological processes, and the reality of ecological restraints will be useful in such an endeavor.

  359. Need to find another acronym, FWB already stands for “Friends With Benefits”. And you still didn’t read those posts: fascism in the true Mussolini and Hitler sense is “totalitarianism of the center”, not the right. It arises when there’s a vacuum at the center and a dictator comes in to fill that vacuum. And there’s really no difference between the two bought and paid for mainstream parties except for the hypocrisy, which the Dems seem to have in spades. At least the GOP is somewhat more honest about their gig.

  360. I used to respect your work, JMG. You’re done a lot of brilliant work, and you can be deeply insightful. I agree with much of what you say about the Democrats. But your tendency to deflect criticism from Trump, and to downplay what is morally indefensible about his behavior and policies, has left a permanent bad taste in my mouth about you and your blog. I won’t be reading you any more.

  361. @JackRavenCorvus

    Re the shutdown and the federal workforce

    As I did mention, if one’s goal is the reduction of the federal workforce (which is indeed bloated, because the feds are involved in far too many aspects of our lives) then a shutdown is not the most effective tool to accomplish that. It may be *a* tool, in that fewer people might pursue federal jobs if these sorts of things become more common events, but yes, a more direct and coherent process would be preferable. Trump is anything but coherent (I think we can all agree on that), even if he stumbles in the right direction periodically.

    @ Nastarana

    Re that political platform

    I can only hope 🙂 In the meantime, though, I acknowledge that I’m going to have to compromise on some issues to gain on others. We do what we can with what we’ve got. And we’ll just have to see how the party system continues to develop and how long the “old guard” of the bipartisan consensus can continue to maintain its grip on power. The Dem version look like it’s digging in for the long haul, but perhaps their position is weaker than it appears from the outside.

  362. @Joe R (if I may)

    Re Trump

    There are many (many) of Trumps’s policies with which I disagree, yet he has (in his incoherent, blustering way) stumbled in directions we need to be going on a number of fronts and—most importantly—directions which no one else was willing to go. TPP, tariffs, and (possibly) bringing some of our troops home from pointless wars are good examples here. I absolutely agree that he is not a moral role-model and is generally an egoistic blowhard. However, the President is not elected for his or her moral character; the President is elected to be chief administrator of the nation and personal morality is irrelevant when it comes to implementing appropriate national policies. Few of our chief executives, of any party, have been highly moral human beings by any reasonable standard. (Carter, again, comes to mind as an excellent counter-example here, contrasting with our history generally.) So to argue that Trump is a bad President because he’s an immoral person is missing the point entirely. One is a good or bad President because of the policies one pursues and implements. If we talk about Trump’s policies, then it is something of a mixed bag, but he is doing things that need doing, although often choosing poor methods to do them.

  363. @Joe R

    If you’re interested in a response to your post, effectve politics has very little to do with morality, and no political pogram that has primarily moral objectives can possibly serve to govern a country so ethically and morally diverse as ours has been from day 1 of its existence. Our host is clear-sighted enough to understand that, which is why I continue to value his comments on American politics. They are pragmatic.

    In contrast, people who place moral, ethical or religious programs at the center of their political thought are, in my view, harmful toxins in the body politic at their best, and actual traitors to the nation at their worst. I do not anger easily, but such people mage me angry.

  364. Harassing the federal workforce to combat the expanding role of government is like harassing an oil pipeline to protest oil consumption. It may impair the “supply”, but it does nothing to reduce the “demand”. Making federal employment less desirable might force agencies to accept less-qualified candidates and is pushing experienced employees into retirement, and blocking a pipline just forces the oil to travel by rail (which is less efficient and more dangerous). (There’s probably another analogy regarding illicit drug trafficking that would work as well.)

    Michigan and Pennsylvania have started issuing February’s “food stamp” payments early, so they won’t get cut-off at the end of the month (if the shutdown continues). This requires recipients to budget for six weeks, rather than four… and from what I’ve read elsewhere, four weeks is hard enough to do. (Even if the shutdown ends today, those recipients will still have to make it stretch to March.)

  365. Re absolutely nothing remotely political 😉

    An interesting experience a short while ago. I was just out and about the town after our dump of snow and dropped by our local game shop. When I came in, there was this (quite literally) little old woman, complete with cane and easily someone’s great-grandmother, chatting with the store-owner about her D&D days back in college. And I’m thinking to myself, how freakin’ awesome is this?

  366. Fascists In Embryo (FIE) suit you better? If the US is not suffering from a vacuum at its center with a wannabe dictator attempting to fill it, with hot air if nothing else, I’m not sure what description would fit. Further, some of us believe that the center in the US is far, far to the right compared to other societies. It’s arguable that we already have a totalitarianism of the supposed center. “Fee foe fie fum” should probably be the watch code for American politics, which have become as unhinged as the UK’s Brexit fiasco. You’d think something was in the air.

  367. “political pogram that has primarily moral objectives”–true enough, things that ostensibly have moral objectives usually do turn out to be pograms…

  368. Well, yes, something is in the air. The American empire and its Western stragglers-on needs to exit the scene post-haste! There really is no role for the US and its client states to play in global affairs anymore…

  369. @JackRavenCorvus

    Re the vacuum in the center

    I’d argue, rather, that the current left/right dichotomy of our political schema has become antiquated and no longer relevant. A deep reorganization of the American political landscape is underway, which may continue for a while yet (even decades), wherein the new division will be along some line completely orthogonal to our present categorization. My guess is that there will be a substantial nationalistic and class element to it, but that is only a guess at this point. But a reorganization does not necessarily entail “fascism”, though supporters of the bipartisan status quo may very well see it as such. Rather, it will entail a revolt against the present power structure, and hopefully, more focus on the working people of this country and less on the support of the dying American empire and its hangers-on.

  370. Yes, alas, Shane. There were way too many typos in that post of mine, and that one was actually fruitful. 😛

  371. Another perennial event, articles discussing this nebulous-yet-ubiquitous term “middle class”

    https://www.thestreet.com/personal-finance/what-is-middle-class-14833259?puc=yahoo&cm_ven=YAHOO&yptr=yahoo

    Links to a couple of calculators included.

    This particular article suggestions four axes by which one’s class might be assessed. Two (income, wealth) are rather intuitive. The other two (consumption, aspiration) throw me a bit. I’m middle (or upper) class because I spend a certain amount of money (whether I can afford to or not)? Or I’m middle (or upper) class because I really, really, really *want* to be? Neither of these make any real sense from my perspective.

    One that isn’t discussed, perhaps because it is anathema in American life, is the notion of class as a determiner of opportunities. That is, class as connections, alliances, and networks. Nations who have old-form aristocracies would see this in action explicitly. Nobles are a “club” of which one is either a member or not. In the US we are not supposed to have such things, which is why we do not talk about them.

    Besides, by the way most of our run-of-the-mill politicians talk, aren’t all Americans “middle class”? 😉

  372. Dear archdruid, I ended up reading some of what you wrote due to my curiosity as I develop sun conversion energy.

    Umm…before I break out a word processor telling you how to convert light into electricity thru other than proprietary photovoltaic methods

    Have you thought of Zeus and how displeased he would be you decifed you were too good to use what he told you to use?

  373. All-

    A report on the intersection of faith and politics: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-ex-churchgoers-flocked-to-trump/

    My summary: Trump did very poorly in the primaries in regions of the country where church attendance (and social trust) was relatively high, and did well among “white evangelicals who don’t go to church” and mistrust their neighbors. That is, among people who identify with “evangelical” Christianity, but don’t necessarily participate in it. It’s not clear whether their lack of participation comes from an inability to provide financial support for religious institutions as a result of harsh economic conditions, or the harsh economic conditions and failure of religious institutions is the result of non-participation. Maybe it’s a little of each.

    [I put quotation marks around “evangelical”, because the word’s meaning is ambiguous; the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” (ELCA) is trying to figure out how to distance itself from the modern usage, which (according to https://www.npr.org/2015/12/19/458058251/are-you-an-evangelical-are-you-sure) in some contexts is a code for “politically-conservative Christians”… and that’s not at all where it wants to be.]

    Mixing politics and religion, it seems, makes compromise far more difficult. As has been noted here for some time, differences in interests become attributed to differences in morality: the Other is evilly Evil. In fact, Pelosi say that building a wall on the southern border would be “immoral”. (I guess the walls of her bedroom are just to keep out the weather, right?)

  374. @ Lathechuck

    Re “immoral” walls

    I’m still trying to figure that one out. How can a nation-state seeking to be a nation-state (that is, among other things, controlling the flow of people and good over its borders) be immoral? Unless one believes that nation-states themselves are immoral. (And there is a contingent who believes exactly that.) To the extent that one is arguing that nation-states ought not exist in any meaningful or functional way, then that person and I are on opposites sides of a definitive line. Self-determination is a thing I very much support.

  375. Speaking randomly for some baby boomers and growing old in this gift continent of the USA, we are becoming a fearful product of our own demise. The plastic wrapped, drugged, evolving world civilization, is speeding towards the end of a 300 year cycle. The 10 Commandments have become the non-heeded rules which many scoff at today. I think I finally understand it, peace be with you all.

  376. I have to admit, there are times when it is difficult to look out over the landscape of our present and future and not get horribly, horribly depressed. To see effective pathways continuously dismissed, to watch as the achievements of our civilization crumble, to observe reasoned and respectful discourse jettisoned as otherwise-rational human beings turn on one another like a pack of rabid animals, and to realize that there is absolutely nothing that one can do to prevent it from happening. Reasoned thought, objective analysis, and rational decision-making become pearls cast before the swine. Short-term fixes, scapegoating, and avoidance of any assessment the actual underlying issues rule the day.

    While the death of a nation, an empire, or a civilization is inherently part of its life, the shadow-times ahead of us would not have to be nearly so difficult as they are likely going to be and we only make things worse with every day that passes, it would seem. We bicker and blame, snarl and snap, and do nothing remotely constructive. The balance of my life, the life of my daughter and my step-children, those of their children, and so forth will all be in the context of the rubble and debris we have all created.

    There is joy in here somewhere, I’m sure. I’m just having a hard time finding it today.

  377. Something else that comes to my mind — triggered partly by my Magic Monday question and ensuing discussion, and partly by my lament just now — is that I struggle with this dichotomy I’ve taken to calling ‘the mage & the sage’.

    The mage, at least as I’ve always pictured the magus, is one who cultivates skills, develops powers, attains knowledge, and by means of all of these imposes his/her will upon the cosmos, shaping it accordingly and transcending the limits which bind others. The aim here is one of ability, power, and strength.

    The sage, on the other had, seeks wisdom, cultivates understanding, accepts the limits imposed upon him or her by existence, and by means of these attains balance with the cosmos, flowing along with it. The aim here is one of peace, insight, and acceptance.

    Yang, Yin. Active, Passive. Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life. Qliphoth, Sephiroth.

    I desire (‘crave’ might be a better word) the first, but know that the second is the better path. The battle within waxes and wanes and waxes again. How to resolve this?

  378. Continuing catabolic collapse:

    I live on Aquidneck Island, where there is currently a natural gas outage affecting about 1/4 of the island. (I live in an old house, so I don’t have natural gas, so I am not directly affected.)

    https://turnto10.com/news/local/restoration-of-natural-gas-on-aquidneck-island-could-take-days

    The governor of Rhode Island has declared a state of emergency, and last night said: “If you do not have heat, do not stay in your homes tonight. It is not safe.” (It was in the single digits F outside. Tonight it’s warmer – 20s.) Warming centers have been set up as far away as URI on the mainland, because the warming centers on the island have filled up. National Grid has promised to reimburse people for whatever they may spend on hotels. But most hotels on the island also don’t have heat.

    The latest from National Grid’s natural gas supplier, Algonquin Gas, is that the unusually cold weather which began Saturday night caused “higher demand than anticipated” and that is what caused the outage.

    National Grid says that they will go house to house to turn off people’s gas, and if they can’t contact the owner/resident they will enter with a locksmith and a police officer. Then they will repressurize the system and make sure it’s safe, then they will go house to house again turning everything back on. They ask customers not to attempt to turn off their own gas. Didn’t people used to know how to turn off their own gas? I don’t have it so I don’t know, but I had that impression. But now it’s officially unsafe to do so…

    They say this house-to-house effort will continue around the clock. Of course then they must add: “[E]very National Grid employee carries a photo ID card, and any contractor doing work for the company is also required to carry ID. If someone requesting entry into your home or place of business does not show an ID card, don’t let that person in and please call National Grid or your local law enforcement.”

    On an odd note, tonight the the National Grid president collapsed at a news conference about the situation: https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20190122/national-grid-president-collapses-at-news-conference

  379. On the “immorality” of a wall: I did not see Pelosi’s speech, so I cannot interpret her meaning with certainty or specify in what context she was calling Trump’s wall immoral, but I have heard that sentiment amongst other pundits on the left who spoke about “what does this mean as a symbol of our values? and who we are as a nation and a people?”. I take it to mean as a symbol, a wall, a giant prison-like barrier to keep people out, (or in) is a negative symbol which goes against the USA’a former, (certainly not current) ideals embraced in Emma Lazarus’s famous poem –

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    so maybe: ‘we made a great nation, greater than any other built of those the ‘refuse’ of other nations, formerly great nations, now lesser because they foolishly threw away human beings, and as such human capital’. It definitely has a moral implication doesn’t it? “Refusing human beings is bad, welcoming them in is good”. ((Of course, those values aligned with the interests of the USA at the time, but that’s probably best left for another post.))

    Think of say, the Berlin Wall. Is that a positive or moral symbol? The idea of The Iron Curtain – was that a positive symbol?

    OTOH: She may have been trying to say it is immoral to waste such a huge sum of money on something frivolous, unneeded, ineffective when money is needed on so many other things in the USA, (like infrastructure, education, etc.) I kind of doubt that, but as I said, I don’t know the speech or the context in which she said that.

    Regardless, I think for anyone old enough to remember the Berlin Wall, that sentiment is not baffling.

  380. Re Morals @ Robert Mathiesen

    “In contrast, people who place moral, ethical or religious programs at the center of their political thought are, in my view, harmful toxins in the body politic at their best, and actual traitors to the nation at their worst. I do not anger easily, but such people mage me angry.”

    I have to say that I am aghast at reading this here – particularly because there does not seem to be vocal disagreement among many of the regular commenters. Does this not stand at odds with the professed reason of this blog? Sensibilities (including moral) that will make for a body of ecosophia which can be used as guidance?

    Maybe you mean “effective governance” and not “effective (effective at what?) politics”. Of course moral considerations should be at the center of this – note that this isn’t the same as overruling all other considerations.

    Honestly I think there was something in the bath water that just went by.

    Maybe this is a (heavily edited) middle ground one could meet on: https://youtu.be/4WO7DmcFNkQ?t=77

  381. Not sure what to make of the whole Covington Catholic thing. Will it all blow over like so many things in our short attention span, or is it a marker of more to come?

  382. About Covington, Northern KY, particularly Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties, are best known as the closest thing KY, and possibly Greater Cincinnati, have to Orange County, Calif. Think wealthy, suburban, monied Republicans. Back when KY was part of the “Solid South”, N KY was remarkable for being a solidly Republican area. N KY is best known as an outlier in KY: wealthy, Northern, non-Anglo Saxon, Catholic in an otherwise mostly poor, Southern, Anglo Saxon, evangelical Protestant state. As far as CVG Catholic, I’d guess they’re probably guilty of the same offenses as any elite, wealthy, privileged institution.

  383. @David,
    I feel particularly the same as you do. Because I’m not a secular humanist and don’t particularly deify human beings, and am not “nonjudgmental”, I’m not particularly fond of the human beings alive today and that I encounter on a day-to-day basis. I really feel that on some level, here in North America, we’re barrelling blindly towards our tamanous implosion the same way Europe barreled towards its Gotterdammerung explosion last century. It does seem that the further we go along, the more productive options are foreclosed to us. Honestly, I think I’d rather be out of incarnation, watching from the other side of the veil–I don’t really know what positively I could do in this incarnation.

  384. Caryn – I don’t know what the context was, either, regarding the border wall being “immoral”, but I think there’s a vast moral difference between the Berlin Wall, which was imposed by the rulers to keep their citizens IN, and a border wall, which is intended to keep outsider OUT. It’s the difference between the walls of a jail (you can’t leave unless I release you), and a bedroom door (you can’t enter unless I invite you).

    Is an appeal to “morals” something that one presents when “reasons” fail?

    On the other hand, I can see how a sense of compassion can lead someone to look over the border, and say “Life looks so terrible over there…
    Come in here, and I will find some place better for you.
    Well, not me, personally and individually, but my neighbors and I.
    No, not actually the neighbors that share my zip code, not those neighbors; you’ll never be able to afford to live next door, but we’ll find some place you can live in a crowded block of apartments with people who speak sort of the same language as you do, and probably won’t harbor old grievances from when you lived in the country that was next to the country that they lived in, and won’t resent the fact that now you’re competing for the same kind of job that they want…
    … and why is it that life is so terrible over there, anyway?

  385. @ Varun

    Is there a third Tree? 😉

    Yes, it is indeed a binary. At the moment, I’m not seeing a third path, but your comment is on-point and has prompted me to look for one. That said, I still believe the sage-path, as I described it, is the better (more helpful, healthier) of the two, my inner desire for power/safety/control/godhead notwithstanding.

    @ muchobliged (if I may)

    Re morals

    The way I would put it, in agreement with Robert, is that morality is not the proper sphere for politics. Ever. The role of governance is to maintain a functional society while impairing individual rights to as little a degree as possible and providing reasonable opportunities for all. Morality has nothing to do with that; and the invocation of moral arguments opens a Pandora’s Box better left nailed shut.

    @ Caryn

    Re the morality of a wall

    An economic argument would be a valid one, though having nothing to do with morality (see my comment just above here). To the extent that we are talking about excluding people, then yes, that is what nation-states do when they control the flow of people (and goods) over their borders and decide who can and cannot become citizens and/or work and/or live within their territory. That is simply the definition of a functional nation-state. People who call that immoral are essentially arguing for a borderless world and the death of functioning nations. That is a position with which I simply cannot agree, particularly if a people choose (and I support the concept of self-determination) to go a different direction than the rest of the world, as I believe we need to if we are to find a less-harsh path through a very troubled future.

    @ Shane

    Re moroseness

    I was still recovering from the previous night’s city council meeting when I wrote that, so there was some context to it. On the other hand, it can be challenging to look ahead at what we face and still find the threads of joy within–though they are indeed there.

  386. About the morals in politics thing: reading the earlier recommended (or at least mentioned) “American Nations” by Colin Woodard will likely make it clear why there are problems with politics and morals being in too tight an embrace. It goes back to the diverse beginnings of various American cultures or nations. There’s a lot of insight in the book that I suspect will pry open the eyes of all but the best informed among you.

    Having said that, firstly although I generally scoff at the whole idea of “trigger warnings” those of you with delicate feelings should be aware that there is a great deal of ugliness in the book, particularly in the graphic descriptions of how some individuals physically treated those they had power over. Although perhaps exposure to certain Hollywood movies or computer games will have already numbed you.

    Secondly, given the great diversity of the US it’s surprising that it’s held together as long as it has. It’s either compromise of morals or the exercise of raw power that has made this country rattle on down thru the ages and I’m unconvinced that it will break apart despite my personal preferences or apparent auguries. On that note, I always caution, be careful what you wish for; the US coming apart will make past uglinesses merely cosmetic.

    And somewhere along the sage-mage axis, whatever the above may sound like, I am of the opinion that some set of benevolent principles towards the larger whole of beingness should be ensconced at the center of all our activities, particularly political ones, rather than the raw power of personal self-interest. I freely admit to being an idealist.

  387. @ Varun

    Re the third Tree

    Hit upon a thought just now. Considering the nature of the trinaries we know from both kabala and druidry (as limited as my knowledge is), parallel the characteristics I mentioned with the triad of elements. Active, gwyar. Passive, calas. What is left? Nwyfre. That is, consciousness. Is there a path of consciousness/awareness that balances the mage on the one hand and the sage on the other?

  388. @David, by the lake, have you considered writing a chronicle of the achievements of western civilization?

  389. Shane, “tamanous”? Is this what you meant:

    The tamanous is a creature from Amerindian myth that could only feed on the flesh of humans who had engaged in cannibalism. This and the wendigo were probably the result (or the cause…) of the extremely strong cannibalism taboo amongst the First Nations peoples, although presumably the two kinds of monster can’t have got on particularly well with one another. According to some tales the tamanous could be identified by the tarry black footprints that it left behind wherever it walked, but otherwise appeared as a more or less normal person. Not merely content with hunting down and eating voluntary cannibals, the tamanous was also said to try and trick people into eating human flesh so that they would become its legitimate prey. It is not immediately clear whether the tamanous is a spirit, demon, undead, transformed human or some other species of monster – but most legends seem to agree that it is not unique.

    Of course, given the huge number of cultures covered by the term “Amerindian”, there is roughly the level of ambiguity you might expect in Tamanous legends and they also appear occasionally mentioned as having fought primordial horrors in the dawn of the world and/or punishing miserly or accquisitive people for their behaviour in a non-fatal manner. Of course neither of these roles precludes them from eating people, nor does fighting primordial horrors mean that they are not necessarily a primordial horror themselves … and expanding the portfolio of something that punishes people for eating their fellow man to include those who only prey metaphorically on their fellows is well within the normal scope of legends.

    Where there is any doubt, the “evil”, man eating version with the tarry footprints may be called the Black Tamanous, to distinguish it from the less malevolent kind.

    (Taken from http://arcana.wikidot.com/tamanous).

    I’m favorably impressed by both the word and the rather extreme concept!

  390. @Shane W.: You repeatedly mentioned secession as a proposed solution for the building political crisis in America. Granted, I have no doubt that you’d prefer not to share a country with ideologues like me, but doesn’t that strike you as the easy way out? Not easy as in easy to accomplish – on the contrary, it would be an incredibly difficult goal to actually achieve – but easy in the sense that it’s a convenient way to avoid having to actually deal with problems. Instead of actually doing the work of reaching agreements and compromises to build a better world for everyone, we’d just be giving up and going our separate ways. I suppose you might think it’s already too late to repair the divide and improve the nation, but I’m not so cynical.

    Here’s an example. I saw a news article a few days ago about how Utah is considering a bill that would prevent trans people from legally changing their gender. (Currently, Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee are the only states that don’t allow this, although some have stricter requirements for doing so than others.) Coincidentally, I saw an article today about how the Japanese Supreme Court upheld a ruling which makes it more difficult for trans people to legally change their gender, demanding that they be sterile or infertile. I’m opposed to these policies, and upset about both of them, but the Japanese decision is completely outside of my power to change. There is literally nothing I can do to have any political or social impact. I can’t vote in their elections. I can’t influence Japanese public opinion, not just because I don’t speak their language, but because I’m not part of their culture and don’t know much about it. I don’t know what values they prioritize, I don’t know how they perceive the world, and I doubt they’d be inclined to care about some random American’s opinion. But I can vote for federal politicians who can impact the people living in Utah, who could potentially pass a law that would ensure that Utah’s state government wouldn’t be allowed to do that. Even short of intervention by the federal government, I can make arguments aimed at persuaded Americans (including the people of Utah) to oppose this policy. So I have better odds of being able to help people in other parts of the world if they’re living under the same government and the same culture as me. (Maybe you don’t consider it helping. Maybe you support Utah’s anti-trans bill, maybe you don’t care one way or another since it doesn’t affect you personally. But that’s besides the point here.)

    The flip side is that conservatives in Utah can try to influence public opinion here in New York, and vote in their own federal politicians to force conservative standards on the people in liberal states. If the system allows me to impact their lives, then it allows them to impact my lives. That’s why we’ve been in this perpetual stalemate for the past decade. But at least this way, people like me can try to make some difference in the world for the better.

  391. @ muchobliged: Yes, I thought the same thing. I’ve had very little time, of late, to spend thinking about, considering and replying to many of the ideas presented in these comments; and I think Robert Mathiesen, (if I’m not being too presumptuous), is referring to some very specific set of morals that he disagrees with. I also hesitate to reply to that as I am aware that I am in disagreement about certain political issues with a number of my fellow commenters here. So, Thank You for bringing that up. I just don’t know how to word it to inquire further and am not sure that would be a fruitful discussion.

    @David re your ‘rant’, concern of sage v. mage. I understand that. I am sorry you’re going through it and feeling such discomfort and frustration with it. I had a similar discussion with my 18 year old last night. He, like you is definitely a mage, I am kind of naturally a sage, that’s just my normal inclination. I think it is a good thing and a good path to be on to fight-the-good-fight, to try and change the direction our collective society is going in; although deep down, I think it is simply human nature or maybe just ‘nature’. That’s why civilisations continue to follow this similar path again and again, (doh!). I suppose and truly hope that by continuing to fight-the-good-fight, we can at least change and improve a small part of it. Nudging our communities or societies in a better direction is better than letting them slide into a not-so-good direction after all.
    I think it helps to see the big picture and then to see the picture close-up from various angles. At least for me, that helps in accepting that this is the way things are – and WHY, and if I want to nudge things in a better direction – HOW. It just takes away some stress that nudging the society or community is so glacially slow and arduous at times, lol. You just do what you can do and accept that there will be pain as well as joy along the road. Another thing, as I told him was a simple perspective brought forth in Pearl S. Buck’s, ‘The Good Earth’, remember that old book? It honestly changed my whole philosophy of life, economics, politics, the way human societies spiral…. It may be worth revisiting? At any rate, Best to you.

    @Shane: RE: The Covington brouhaha: I suspect you’re right on both counts – it will blow over but not be totally forgotten – when another incident flares up, it will be brought back up to show some pattern. I think they were clueless, obnoxious teens acting like, well…TEENS, who in general have a tendency to act clueless and obnoxious, those from privilege, especially so and in an especially unpalatable manner. Thank You for giving some back ground on that area of KY, it makes sense. The fault, if any is on the chaperones and the school for ill-preparing them in the first place, for not ushering them out of there when things got heated before the Native Americans even showed up; and in the aftermath, the teachers/priests and that kid’s parents for not seeing that boy’s actions from the other side and advising him better in just apologising, fer-cryin’-out-loud! I would like to think I’ve beaten good manners and respect into my own kids enough, ( haha ) that they would never, but they are after all teens, so I can’t say for certain they would never act so poorly. I do hope it blows over.

    It DOES bring up, as lathechuck touched on above, the ‘intersection of faith and politics’. Now, there IS a legacy of Catholic political protest and activism. From this incident and from what you’ve said, I’d sadly be surprised if Covington HS has ‘schooled’ these boys in the works of Dorothy Day or Daniel and Phillip Berrigan or Pax Christi, just in the 2nd half of the 20th C, the list goes on and on. That’s a pity. There is a rich history to be proud of there, IMHO.

    OK back to work for now. Thanks and best to you all. 🙂

  392. @David,
    to me, the pink elephant in the room is the palpable fear and cowardice that drives everyone today. Most people today simply have no concept of the idea of courage and sacrifice.
    Regarding the whole CVG Catholic thing. My guess is that CVG Catholic occupies the niche that most private Catholic schools occupy. It’s the first “rung” up from public school, yet it’s certainly not as far up the ladder as more elite or exclusive private boarding schools, etc. My guess is that it’s students are well into the middle class, yet not too far up the elite scale. Being a Catholic institution, they probably offer scholarships to the faithful. If I had to guess, I’d say that Latinos are probably better represented among the student body than African Americans. IDK why the media has fixated on Phillips and Sandmann, yet we’ve seen nothing of the Black Hebrews who supposedly provoked both sides. Why aren’t their smiling mugs in front of the cameras?

  393. In The Department of Dark Nightmare Technological Predictions of Horror , I see that the long dreaded arrival of the famous flying cars seems to be gaining traction once again with several developments in the field lately. When will people learn?

  394. Muchobliged, thank you for being aghast. It shows me that you read and understood what I was saying, even though it goes greatly against the grain of our country’s current public discourse. The purpose of my post was to set a cat among a particular flock of pigeons.

    Let us consider together a common assumption about ethics and/or morality, namely, that in an ideal world all people, in all parts of the globe and for all future time, would adhere to a single clear ethical (or moral) standard of conduct. This is the flock of pigeons I had in view.

    On what might such a shared ethics be based?

    Would it be a biological thing that is instinctive in all human beings (pathological cases excepted), at all times and places, that has always somehow been a part of the inherent programming of healthy humans, somehow encoded into our wet-ware, though perhaps overwritten in various ways by the mandates of this or that actual culture?

    Or would it be a philosophical construct, deduced logically from axioms and postulates that no mentally competent human being could rationally challenge?

    Or, finally, would it be a set or virtues and/or commandments, mandated by a Sole Deity, or by the Totality of all Deities, Who are all of one mind in this requirement they have imposed on us humans?

    I came at this question, initially, from the point of view of Anthropology, a discipline that has given us careful, sensitive, insightful, “thick,” and detailed descriptions of a very great number of distinct contemporary cultures from all over the globe. There I could not find any core of ethical or moral values that manifests itself everywhere. Not even incest, homicide, cannibalism, infanticide and rape are fundamentally “out of bounds” in each and every stable, functioning culture all over the globe. These actions do pose genuine challenges to long-range social stability, but societies also have come up with effective ways and means of containing the harm that these actions might do while still affirming them to be right actions, or even required actions, under certain fairly well-defined circumstances. So my answer here must be: No, I cannot find good empirical evidence for any standard of ethics that might be part of human wet-ware.

    Nor can I devise any set of axioms and postulates that would be universally accepted in all these above-mentioned cultures, such that one might deduce from them a set of ethical norms which all humans, no matter the culture in which they were raised, ought logically to accept as binding on them. Here at least, though perhaps not in every area of thought, Philosophy seems to stand helpless.

    Finally, as to Deities and other such Beings: they are everywhere in all cultures (except for some marginal cultures such as ours, found in the post-Enlightenment First World). But again, empirical examination of these cultures finds no universal ethical mandates, which might have been imposed on our species by these Beings. Rather, when cultures do claim that such mandates have been imposed from on high (some cultures make no such claim), the details of these mandates vary from one culture to the next in rather striking ways.

    Yet this negative conclusion is not the end of the matter. In everyday life, people do find that almost all their friends and neighbors, their more distant acquaintances, and even the random strangers they meet, do have internal standards of right and wrong, which no one of them can violate and still continue to “live with” oneself easily, to regard oneself as a decent person. That much in undeniable.

    And when all these people are part of one and the same culture, it creates an illusion that these individual internal standards are identical in every detail from one person to the next, and also identical with one’s own internal standards. And then, of course, from time to time one finds oneself shocked, horrified, and disgusted when some person’s chosen action shatters this illusion, even if it is only in some small way. It would be so much easier if we all actually did have a common internal standard of right and wrong.

    What does seem to be encoded in (almost) every human’s wet-ware is precisely the propensity to create this illusion for oneself, and by extension for one’s own culture, and by further extension, for humanity as a whole. Yet it remains an illusion, even if it is imposed by our human wet-ware.

    So where do we go from this point? This will differ from one person to the next.

    I happen to have been raised in a Pantheistic family, rooted in the culture of the San Francisco Bay Area. The idea that there might actually be one and only one Deity, or Supreme Deity, feels instinctively, unquestionably wrong to me—not merely a false proposition intellectually, but downright “wrong,” maybe even a little “squicky.” A multitude of such Deities, or similar Beings, is far more palatable to me. (Of course, your mileage may vary.)

    If I propose to derive binding ethical standards from the mandates of such Beings, then I can account for the actual diversity of these standards among humans by supposing that the Totality of Deities does not agree within Itself as to what is right and wrong for humans. Rather, there is eternal, more or less harmonious Divine Dissensus on the subject of human ethics. Thus each Deity claims for Itself various humans, and mandates Its view of right and wrong for those particular humans (or encodes it in their wet-ware). At the same time each Deity is aware that its fellow Deities have rightly imposed their own more or less different views of right and wrong on other humans (or encoded it in their wet-ware). Thus we arrive at the actual, observable, fundamental human dissensus as to ethics. Under this hypothesis, it would be the Divinely imposed (or, if you will, biologically encoded into human wet-ware) ethical dissensus actually found in humanity.

    Alternatively, if I propose to exclude Deities from the discussion, then I can fall back on biological evolution: ethical standards encoded in human wet-ware will be a produce of evolution, and as such, they will have evolved toward ethical variety and dissensus, not toward ethical uniformity and consensus.

    Our host, of course, has emphasized dissensus as a valuable tool for getting through the collapse of our modern world that is starting to hit us fast and hit us hard. The cat I wish to set among a flock of pigeons here is a principled defense of Dissensus in Ethics.

  395. RE: Morality

    This was a topic I’ve been wanting to offer my two cents on recently after reading some of T.R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans.

    The development of the Republic of Texas is a rather good parallel to our current situation. The land was part of the Spanish Empire, which was in decline. Lots of aliens had been flooding it in the hopes of creating a better life. The end result was a significant enough population living together in an area which was ripe for splitting away from the Spanish Empire.

    Part of what made the area ripe was that it was an area other people didn’t want to live. Those who came were willing to live and take action in ways which other people, who lived an entirely different lifestyle, found morally repulsive.

    This created a realization within me which is important: morality is a tool. As a tool, it can be used and abused. People often abuse it, and often do it in order to control others. In the 1820s, what the aliens in the region now known as Texas were doing was morally reprehensible to those who lived in the cities of the eastern seaboard. For those people in that region though, if they did not choose the actions which they undertook, they would have died.

    From this one example, there are two glaringly obvious parallels. An uncontrolled flow of immigrants can easily result in destruction of the law and order, ie the government, of an area. Two, what may seem immoral to outsiders not on the ground dealing with a situation seems pretty moral when the alternative is death.

  396. It looks like the scenario sketched out in Twilight’s Last Gleaming is starting to click into place. I don’t see either the current Resident or his Vice taking the honorable way out, though.
    Meanwhile, a massive murder of crows have taken up residence in the trees outside of my windows. A harbinger to be sure, but of what?

  397. More to muchobliged:

    I should also add that politics is not–in my view–a means for reaching any sort of truth or utopia (assuming we mere humans are even capable of anything more than very clumsy, crude temporary approximations to such things), but for building and maintaining more or less workable communities among ourselves. Given the inevitable Dissensus in Ethics (or in Morality) for which I argued in my previous post, the best we humans can ever do is make workable compromises with one another so we can live and work together, despite our inevitable dissensus in matters of ethics and morality. That is the pragmatic thing to do.

    For me, jettisoning any notion of lasting material, economic, social and scientific Progress goes hand in hand with jettisoning any notion of religious, spiritual, philosophical, ethical and moral Progress. Both look to me like facets of the same (false, IMHO) Religion of Progress.

    Yes, everything is always in flux, and the system that is our world is always changing. At some times and places, it can change much for the better. But I would maintain that any changes for the better in some parts of the system of our world necessarily bring about more or less equal changes for the worse in other parts of that same system. Our world as a whole seems always to manifest Balance. Progress seems never to occur without corresponding Regress elsewhere in the whole system. Like a teeter-totter, when one person is lifted up, the other person is pushed down.

  398. Shane,

    I always wondered whether your talk about incompatibility of cultures and the drive for session wasn’t shadow of something sunk a little deeper. Guess I have my answer now.

    “Because I’m not a secular humanist and don’t particularly deify human beings, and am not “nonjudgmental”, I’m not particularly fond of the human beings alive today and that I encounter on a day-to-day basis. I really feel that on some level, here in North America, we’re barrelling blindly towards our tamanous implosion the same way Europe barreled towards its Gotterdammerung explosion last century. It does seem that the further we go along, the more productive options are foreclosed to us. Honestly, I think I’d rather be out of incarnation, watching from the other side of the veil–I don’t really know what positively I could do in this incarnation.”

    Regards,

    Varun

  399. @Joe R says:

    >*But your tendency to deflect criticism from Trump, and to downplay what is morally indefensible about his behavior and policies, has left a permanent bad taste in my mouth about you and your blog. I won’t be reading you any more.*

    Well, if you can’t read someone you disagree with, you shouldn’t be reading this blog anyways…

  400. Robert Mathiesen,

    I am somewhat sympathetic and somewhat skeptical of the idea of dissensus, so I’d like to ask three lines of questions.

    1. Tolerance. It seems to me dissensus is only workable if is taken as a “first principle” by all – for else how do you stop the zealots imposing some belief on you? So how do you envisage this happening? Is there “no tolerance for the intolerant”? How extreme would this be – as far as, say, executing the “anti-dissensians”? Dissensus seems to me like a negative first principle, and indeed you argued for it by showing that other views are not tenable. Is how you’d imagine justifying the idea generally?

    2. Practicality. People can change their minds, and often do. What kind of society can withstand inherent ethical flux? How ‘standoffish’ must society be to live according to dissensus? for, you can never assume that anyone agrees with you about anything. Perhaps the person walking by enjoys murdering strangers: so it might be good to carry a weapon everywhere. How can people found institutions and have traditions when “any value can change”?

    3. Culture. As you say, most societies rally around some one ethical code. Do you know any examples of music, art, literature, philosophies, religious ideas, etc that reflect a “dissensian” mindset? Or adages – for example the USA’s “E pluribus unum” (“Out of many, one”) seems destined always to remain a not-fully-fulfilled ideal for a dissensian society. How could one depict dissensus in a positive way artistically (in the broadest sense of the word “artistically”)?

  401. @ Trlong36

    Re a chronicles of the achievements of human civilization

    As a student of history, that would be a fascinating project, though there are people far more qualified for something like that than I am. However, wasn’t the Encyclopedia Galactica a bait-and-switch operation? 😉 As a mathematician, I’d rather be among the psychohistorians of the Second Foundation working and shaping the Plan than one of the blind mob being manipulated. Of course, the Plan fails in the end, so perhaps it makes no difference.

    @ Caryn

    Thank you. I would call myself neither mage nor sage, but more a wandering seeker who occasionally gets very bewildered. Though I fall into these pits periodically, after a bit of thrashing about in frustration I usually see the light again. I am beginning to understand, I think, that the mage-path (as I described it, anyway) is all ego and illusion, leading nowhere good. Limits exist, I cannot transcend them, and they are necessary. The sage-path is all that is left for effective work.

  402. @ David, re: Sage vs Mage, if I may, and since you asked; have you tried prayer? I think that this sort of thing can perhaps be sorted out with a benevolent being who is much mightier, wiser, better, &c than us mere mortals! Also, another thought, you are engaged in spiritual processes, yes? Perhaps then letting the processes take you to yourself versus needing to know what the end results look like? I think the need for lots of definitions is, at least in my own experience, often the voice of the Watcher at the Threshold.

    @ Ashara: if I may, as a trans person I wish to say that I do not like the trend of Leftists invoking trans-folks as a reason to meddle in the social consensus of regions far and away. If the good folks of Utah, listening to their god, cannot recognize me as a legal woman, who am I, a mere mortal, to get in the way of sincere understandings of faith?

    The other issue is that there really isn’t a broad social consensus on the existential status of gender identity. Now, there is a broad consensus that trans people are humans who have the same rights as other people, but are they actually the genders they claim to be? There we see no agreement between various groups’ belief systems. Crucially, I don’t think that we yet have a coherent philosophy of transgenderism. Sure there is the whole “respect people,” line used, which is, admittedly, good as far as it goes. But please, let’s be real, I currently live in a very ‘liberal’ town and the “respect” people afford me quite often seems much more like”condensation”. Frankly, I vastly prefer when the people in my life treat me as a male who they personally respect rather than as a sickly, delicate, emotionally unstable woman who always needs special treatment.

  403. Hi, Thank You for your replies. I’d like to make clear, I am not necessarily in agreement with Speaker Pelosi in her statement of ‘the immorality of the wall’. I think it is inaccurate, although, as I tried to explain, I do understand where she is coming from. The sentiment in the Emma Lazarus poem has never been celebrated, (or sold to us), as an ideal of self-interest.

    But from the replies – Our gracious host here has written a few compelling essays on the difference of ‘values-based politics’ and ‘interest-based politics’. As I recall, he used the passage of the emancipation proclamation as an example of an early (or the first?) successful use of values based politics as opposed to what had always previously won the day – interest based politics.

    @Robert Mathieson, David et al:
    So, what do you think is the difference between ‘morality based politics’ and ‘values-based politics’? We do seem to be talking past each other here. I see them as fairly interchangeable – but as Muchobliged pointed out – this entire blog is clearly an exercise in values and lessening the pain of a long descent will benefit us individually very little. Very most likely every one of us on this blog will be pushing up daisies before things really go pear-shaped. We are not the ones on the front lines.

    And for what it’s worth – I don’t see why any morality (or values) must encompass all of humanity across all borders of space and time. I think that’s kind of like saying “why do anything good for anyone?, after all I can’t do it for EVERYONE, so, meh….”

    Finally: @ David and Lathechuck:
    1), from what I have heard and read, many of the illegal immigrants in the caravans are fleeing violence, drug-wars, extreme poverty and the threat or expectation of death for themselves or their children. It sounds reasonable to me, that in the face of that, they would flee and drag their poor kids across thousands of miles of desert to get to safety. I would too. I honestly cannot imagine a large number of parents who would do this carelessly – (OOOH! Maybe ‘caring for our young’ is in fact one innately human ‘morality’ we all share?)

    2) I am not arguing against sovereign nation states with borders. I am not arguing against any kind of border security, (Neither have any public Democrats I’ve heard, (I’m sure you can dredge up some loopy fringe element that does, but hey, you can find people who advocate for just about any crazy idea, right, centre or out in left field).
    I personally disagree with the wall purely on economic waste. I suspect it would be pretty useless, perhaps even a boon to the drug cartels and Coyotes.

    Thanks, all.

  404. @Ashara,
    compromise and cooperation is a cheap, throw away sentiment. Do you see any genuine efforts at compromise and cooperation? No, I don’t think so. Besides, the progress myth of the Puritan parts of the county, “team blue”, if you will, as the “shining city on a hill”, is so deeply ingrained that I don’t think compromise is possible. Once it becomes apparent that they’re no longer leading the rest of the “retrograde” areas to a grand and glorious progressive future, then compromise and cooperation will be out the window. It really is a one-way street w/the Puritan, team blue regions. Besides, most of us do not want to discuss at all the tiny, boutique, niche issue of gender dysphoria that is so bad that the only way the individual feels he/she can deal w/it is through gender reassignment surgery and becoming permanently dependent on the MIC (medical industrial complex) for the rest of his/her life. These people only represent a tiny fraction of a percent of the population, and to take up space discussing this issue when there are so many other, more pressing issues that affect VASTLY more people is obscene. Not to mention that we already have folks here like Violet who have expressed “transition regret” and feel that they were not adequately counseled before they transitioned. The War Between the States was mistakenly settled on behalf of the Yankee industrial capitalist empire, and the correct solution, dissolution and secession, is still out there waiting.

  405. @Ashara,
    part of the madness in blue America right now w/TDS is cognitive dissonance. Our national narrative states that wherever the Eastern Establishment leads, w/those crazy upstarts on the West Coast in the vanguard, the rest of the nation follows, by force if necessary. Now, that is breaking down, and the cognitive dissonance created by that breakdown is what is manifesting in blue America w/the insanity around TDS.
    @Varun,
    whenever I see left leaning people gush about just how sacred each and every one of us is, and just how much they value humanity, I’m thinking that, on some basic level, that in their conscience they know just how poor the character of Western people alive today is, and that all their loud proclamations of the “sacredness of humanity” is compensation for that truth.

  406. @Ashara (if I may)

    Re secession and your example

    Your point about being a common society—and within that context, your example—is good so far as it goes, and so long as Congress is properly operating within the bounds of the specifically-delegated authority is possesses under our federal charter. To your example, I would generally say that, as a libertarian, one’s body is one’s own to the extent no other person is involved (one notable exception in my view being abortion, as we all have previously discussed), and while I would find the notion of gender reassignment puzzling and perplexing, it would be within one’s rights to pursue that as doing so does not inhibit the rights of others. (Rather like plural marriage, which I would support the rights of others to engage in, but would have no interest in myself—the emotional mechanics of a two-body system are complex enough without tossing in a third or a fourth.)

    However, should Utahans decide, for whatever set of reasons, that the costs of remaining part of that larger society are greater than the benefits and choose to leave that larger society to pursue their own course, accepting the consequences of that choice, then they have should right to do so. And in that instance, as in your example, Utah would become no different than Japan. I would argue that our system works best when it is a voluntary association, rather than a coerced one.

  407. “seems much more like’condensation'” Umm, I think you meant “condescension”. Condensation is what you get from an air conditioner running on on a hot, sticky, humid day in the Southeast. 😉

  408. @Caryn

    Re the wall and morality

    The motive behind the one’s migration is, in the end, irrelevant. A nation-state decides who, when, and under what conditions people who are not citizens of that nation may enter, live, work, and seek to become citizens while in its territory. Under certain circumstances, a particular nation may have a very accepting policy; under others, a very restrictive one. First and foremost, however, the nation-state must look to the well- wing of its own citizenry, if it wants to remain in existence. Those coming from outside have no rights to demand entry. They are allowed in (or not) entirely at the pleasure of the nation-state in question.

    If we as a nation-state decide that we will accept all those fleeing violence, we can do so. If we change our mind and say that no one else is allowed to immigrate, we can do that as well. If we say that we will allow outsiders in only to the extent that the working classes of our own citizens are not harmed economically, we can set that standard. Morality has nothing do to with it.

    Walls are one of a number of possible barriers and deterrents. In the end, a wall on the southern border will only delay the migratory pressures, just as the various walls, barriers, and fortifications of Rome did with respect to the different peoples pressing upon its long border. There are other deterrents one could employ alone or in combination with physical barriers. But these are practical issues of national policy, not moral questions.

  409. Shane, TDS?

    Telephone & Data Systems, Inc.? Total Disolved Solids? Testicular dysgenesis syndrome? Tax deducted at source? Tulalip Data Services?

    I was under the impression that you were not in favor of previously used and unclear acronyms. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the merits of consistency, petty minds and opium. However, the lesson I’m really taking from this discussion and my reading of the aforementioned “American Nations” by Colin Woodard is that there is no level of political hypocrisy to which humans will not stoop in pursuit of self advantage and they will usually dress it up with some deluded appeal to morals handed down from a greater power with a side serving of culture or heritage.

    What I hope for when I see the word “ecosophia” is what the roots of the word would seem to indicate, wisdom or knowledge about the home, in this case Earth and natural processes. And I would argue that humans are inherently part of nature and even our oh-so-clever minds are the result of those natural processes, although shaped and distorted by religion, media, and cultural requirements.

    If there is one thing I feel we have to overcome it’s the brutality we exhibit towards each other and the planet. We need to escape old paradigms and find a more generous and caring attitude towards all around us. Not an easy thing to achieve in the political system of divide and conquer that we have inherited with its industrial consumerist economic system and, as far as environmental issues go, the massive overpopulation of humans that this system has produced. We may yet gain immense insight into our condition, but to go from present conditions to some presently imagined “sustainable” future will be a feat that has so far defeated humanity. All this talk of walls and secession and even morals is by comparison parochial and short term. What’s the bigger picture?

  410. RE: fear and cowardice as the M.O. of everyone alive today. If you take Strauss and Howe’s Fourth Turning as valid, then we are past due for the end of the Saeculum and the beginning of another turning. We’re desperately hanging on to the late 20th century high by any means, hook or crook. If you take Depressions as features, not bugs, of unrestrained capitalism, then, by all means, the Great Recession should’ve been the second Great Depression, but, again, the powers that be, driven by that all powerful M.O. fear and cowardice, knowing just how “soft” people living today are, did everything in their power to stave off the Depression and keep the late 20th century music playing just that much longer. But, at what cost? By all accounts, Millennials are a “hero” generation, and adapted to come of age during a crisis. By delaying the inevitable, we made it that much worse. Strauss and Howe argued that the Civil War came too early, and thereby brought out the worst in the generations alive at the time and scarred the Progressive generation for life. By delaying the Depression of 2009 until, say 2020, how much worse will we have made things? Will this be like the Civil War, where it brings out the worst in the generations by happening at the “wrong” time?

  411. @ Monk,

    I think a considerable amount of ongoing violence and injustice is baked in the cake for any world that openly recognized the (IMHO natural) Dissensus in Ethics that I have been exploring here.

    In the Ancient Greek myths, the Deities Themselves do not seem to get along at all well with One Another. Only the inconvenient fact that They are deathless prevents the strongest or most cunning among Them from eliminating all the Others and reigning in solitary supremacy from Mt. Olympus — and, I dare say, perhaps eventually becoming Divinely dissatisfied with His or Her lonely life on that mountaintop. These Ancient Gods are certainly not portrayed as all-knowing or all-wise. They live forever in a disharmonious state of wary truce with one another. At times They do open violence to one another. They also seem to enjoy using–exploiting!–naive, impassioned, trusting humans as pawns to do violence to one another on Their behalf. “As flies to wanton boys / Are we to the Gods; / They kill us for their sport.”

    So much for the Deity-based approach to ethics. If, however, one takes a naturalistic approach to the same question, then it suffices to note that in the biosphere evolution itself proceeds as it does only because of pervasive death and perpetual violence. Were all living beings immortal, there could be no decisive evolutionary change in the biosphere. Fortunately, they are not.* Eating and being eaten, death and violence are some of the chief factors that bring about lasting evolutionary change. They are not the only such factors, of course: cooperation, love, altruism, justice, and such things are as powerful as hate, selfishness, revenge, and things of that ilk in furthering evolutionary change.

    Human society seems to be possible only to the extent that its members share not only useful knowledge, but a considerable number of illusions. As it happens, alas! my own wet-ware is not very good at perceiving and maintaining illusions, whether social or otherwise. I am not neuro-typical in that way. This can be very unpleasant at times, not only for myself, but for those who read some of my musings. (For that I apologize.) At other times, it has given me a genuine advantage in the rough-and-tumble of human life in my society.

    As for your specific questions:

    (1) You can only stop the zealots from imposing their views on you by superior force, or by fear of such force; or you may not manage to stop them at all. Or you can deploy the illusion of Consensus in Ethics to your advantage, if you have the necessary skills. (The weak can develop all the subtle skills of survival to a far higher degree than the strong ever need to.)

    (2) As you suggest, you might go about always armed. But material weapons are not the only means of self-defense. The weak actually have something of an advantage here, in that the strong rely only on their own preferred weapons, and ignore or discount the lethal effectiveness of things that are not much like their weapons.

    Speaking for myself, I have never had a high level of physical coordination, nor (due to one eye being far-sighted, the other near-sighted) much ability to track the real position of any object rapidly approaching me, whether a ball or a sword. So I had to discover and master more subtle means of self-defense and threat-detection, starting in childhood. So far these means have served me well enough for my own survival and that of my family.

    (3) The illusion of Consensus in Ethics is part of our wet-ware, so no, I wouldn’t expect to find any highly productive, large society that has been able to dispense with that illusion and still survive. Our species needs illusion to survive.
    _______________
    *Speaking just for myself, I would not consent to be(come) immortal for any price. I know my own mind and nervous system too well to think that I could handle the ever-increasing burdens of experience, memory and knowledge as the aeons rolled by. Eventually I would become a gibbering, mindless wreck, or I would sink into an eternal coma. I cannot think of any more horrid punishment that could be inflicted on any human than deathlessness.

  412. @Caryn:

    I don’t actually see this blog as an exercise toward shared values, but toward survival through a multiplicity of strategies, including values strategically deployed.

    As everywhere in the constantly changing biosphere, diversity within any species favors long-term survival, not uniformity. Hence our host’s emphasis on dissensus as to the best way to face the future in the United States.

    And I don’t really distinguish between morality-based and values-based forms of politics; they both seem fairly ineffective to me. But I’m a pragmatist, not overly interested in ethical issues.

  413. Again, apropos of absolutely nothing remotely political 😉

    Just made a nice onion soup from a bean/vegetable broth base that turned out really nicely, slightly sweet from the carmelization. (My own beans, onions, and garlic.) Along with, of course, my weekly loaf of sourdough bread. I am (very, very slowly) learning that two very good cures for my occasional metaphysical crises are 1) to go out among people rather than withdrawing into my head to ruminate and 2) to work with food and/or the earth, whether gardening or cooking. One of these times, I will remember this right off when the hamster-wheel starts turning, rather than days later.

  414. Caryn

    I just heard a discussion (NPR news, Sunday night) exploring the claim that “the wall is immoral”. I didn’t hear as much clarity as I was hoping for, but I took away the idea that “the immigration policy is immoral (