Not the Monthly Post

The End of the Dream

It may not be quite accurate to say that it’s all over but the shouting, but something of that sense seems to be catching on in America these days. The collapse of the Democratic attempt to get rid of Donald Trump via impeachment is one straw in the wind; another, even more telling, is the frank confession by several Democratic movers and shakers that impeachment was the only way to stave off a Trump victory in this autumn’s election—and we don’t even have to bring up the Keystone Kops fiasco of the Iowa caucuses, which is still unfolding one embarrassment after another as I write these words. Still, regular readers of mine will not be surprised to learn that the signs I’m thinking about aren’t anything so obvious.  One of them is a giddy absurdity, the other is an admission of total defeat, and it’s among the ironies of the situation that neither author realizes that these labels apply to their work.

The first of these signs, the absurd one, is a news story—tip of the druid’s hat to reader Earl King Jr. for this one—and you can read it online here. Yes, it’s a CNN article, and yes, it’s really, truly, seriously trying to insist, in so many words, that if eating monosodium glutamate (MSG) makes you ill, you’re not actually ill, you’re racist.

A little background may be useful here. MSG is found naturally in small amounts in some foods but is manufactured in gargantuan quantities for industrial food production. It acts as a flavor enhancer.  That’s why the food industry adores it—you can dump some into a food product that’s cheaply made of low quality ingredients, and the result comes out tasting better than stale cardboard. (Well, a little better.)  So there’s a lot of MSG in a lot of processed food these days.

Some people are sensitive to it. Here I’m not just talking about the people who get the full-blown syndrome:  dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, and so on.  There’s also a larger penumbra of people—I’m one of them—who just feel a little queasy for a while when there’s too much added MSG in their food.  That happens, by the way, whether or not they know there’s MSG in the food; if you know people with MSG sensitivity, you quickly get used to hearing the words “Crap, there must have been MSG in that,” and glancing at the label to find out that they’re right.  It also happens whether or not the food in question belongs to an Asian cuisine. (MSG is in a lot of cheap salad dressings and flavored potato chips, for example, and people who are sensitive to it can’t eat those either without reacting. How is that racist?)

The food industry is quick to point out that there have been all sorts of studies purporting to prove the nonexistence of “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” as the effects of MSG sensitivity are sometimes called. Do those studies exist?  Sure.  Care to guess who paid for them?  If you said “the food industry,” good—you’re paying attention.  Nearly all the research into the health effects of food these days is paid for by the food industry, which means that researchers who want to keep getting grants know perfectly well what results they have to turn up, and if you know the first thing about experimental design and statistics you know how easy it is to gimmick a study to get the results your sponsor has paid for.  If you think this doesn’t happen, go to your favorite search engine and look up the phrase “replication crisis.”

That, in turn, is why so few people believe the food industry and their paid researchers when these insist that MSG doesn’t make anyone ill. That’s also what’s behind the massive crisis of legitimacy that’s shaking the industrial societies of the Western world right down to their foundations.  Too many people have realized that expert opinions are simply another form of corporate public relations, meant to promote someone else’s bottom line at their expense, and have learned to ignore claims to expertise that contradict their own lived experience. Yes, that’s also why Donald Trump is president of the United States and why Britain left the EU and put Boris Johnson back in No. 10 Downing Street, despite the unanimous clamor of the experts.

All this is necessary background to the CNN story cited above. A lot of people these days read the labels on processed foods while shopping, and if MSG appears on the label, a good many of them put the item back on the shelf.  This is a problem for the food industry, of course, because food products that are cheaply made of low quality ingredients are among their biggest profit engines.  Previous attempts to convince people not to notice what they experience when they eat foods too heavily dosed with MSG haven’t accomplished much, and so CNN has leapt into the fray with a last, forlorn attempt to convince people to eat MSG, even if it makes them feel ill, as a means of virtue signaling.

This shows, among other things, that the social justice movement has just jumped not merely the shark but the giant squid and three or four great whales to boot. When a social movement gets turned into raw material for advertising, you know that it’s over and done with.  When Virginia Slims cigarettes started using feminist slogans in their ad campaigns, that was the signal that second wave feminism had given up on making significant changes in the system and settled for getting women of the privileged classes a larger share of the goodies; when the environmental movement turned into a comparable collection of sales gimmicks—well, you can do the math as well as I can. All corporate advertising has as its subtext the maintenance of the status quo, so when your movement becomes an advertising resource, no matter how loudly you insist otherwise, you’re not a threat to the status quo:  you are the status quo.

It’s at this point that I’d like to shift to the second of the signs I have in mind—tip of the druid’s hat here to reader Kevin Fathi for the heads-up. You can’t read it online; instead, you’ll have to shell out twenty-five bucks to get a copy of the just-released hardback edition of The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite by Michael Lind. (One of the articles that turned into the book is available here.) Unlike the CNN article cited above, it’s not absurd; it’s calm, reasoned, and thoughtful, and it makes some of the points I’ve been making on this and my previous blog for the last four years and more.  It’s also the precise equivalent of waving a white cloth on a stick over the parapet of a trench in wartime.

To understand this, it’s helpful to know that the author is a consummate insider, a member of the very managerial elite from which he insists democracy has to be saved.  He’s been an editor or staff writer at The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The National Interest; he’s taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins and currently teaches public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s one of the carefully vetted people to whom the managerial elite allots the tasks of teaching its prospective members and providing its current members with interesting reading material. Keep this in mind as we proceed.

What Lind proposes in his book is that in recent decades, a privileged class—in his terms, the managerial elite—has taken over the public sphere, silenced dissent, and pushed through policies that benefit its members while loading all the costs onto the working class majority. The populist backlash that put Trump into the White House and popped Britain out of the EU, he argues, arose in response to the takeover of the public sphere by the managerial class, and will continue until the working class majority knows that it can get its concerns addressed and its needs met by those in power.  None of there concepts will be unfamiliar to my readers, but it’s quite something to see them being admitted, right out there in public, by an insider like Lind.

It’s the conclusion that Lind draws, and some of the reasoning that guides it, that turns Lind’s book into something comparable to the white flag mentioned above. He insists that the populist movement has no policy goals of its own—no, of course not, it’s simply reacting blindly against the policies of the managerial elite—and that if the populists win and displace the managerial elite entirely, then the result will be the triumph of demagogues who have no constructive policies to pursue and who will not enact any of the reforms Lind considers necessary. It would be much better, he insists, for the managerial elite to welcome working class majorities back into the decisionmaking process in politics, economics, and culture.

Such proposals are an invariable feature of the final stages of the kind of social transformation we’re undergoing right now. You can see the same thing in fine detail, for example, in the history of countries that used to be European colonies and then became independent nations. With epic inevitability, the functionaries of the former colonial government admitted that yes, of course colonialism was a bad thing, and of course change is necessary, but the native peoples can’t possibly administer their own affairs, you know, so the best choice for everyone is a power-sharing arrangement that allows the former colonial functionaries to keep their present positions while paying a little more attention to the needs of the native population.

The native population, for its part, knows better.  It knows that the point of the power-sharing arrangement is to enable the former colonial functionaries to cling to privileged positions and to retain control over which needs of the masses get met and which still get ignored.  It knows that when a nation wins its freedom, and has to staff its institutions with people who don’t necessarily have the training for the task, there will be a longer or shorter period of relative confusion, followed by stabilization—and that only by putting up with that period, and building an administrative class from below, does freedom become more than a word.  So they tell the former colonial administrators to pack their bags and leave the key on the mantel, because they recognize that the former colonial administrators are, in effect, suing for terms—and they know that the best response to that act is to demand unconditional surrender.

I expect Lind’s proposal to get the same response, because he’s making the same error as the colonial administrators he’s unwittingly copying.  The insistence that the working classes have no policy goals of their own is as central to the ideology and mentality of the managerial elite as the corresponding insistence, on the part of those colonial administrators, that the natives can’t possibly govern themselves. In both cases, those statements simply aren’t true, but each of those untruths exist to camouflage an utterly unpalatable reality. For the colonial administrators, that reality is that the natives are perfectly capable of governing themselves—they had been doing so for thousands of years, after all—just not in the way that the colonial administrators want them to govern themselves.  For the managerial class, similarly, that reality is that the working classes have one overriding policy goal:  to be free to live their lives and make their own choices as they wish, rather than being expected to wait for administrators to set policy goals for them to follow.

If you’ve built your career and your identity around the notion that people are incapable of living their own lives without having you around to tell them what to do, discovering that they’re ready, willing, and able to do without your services can be a shattering experience—and discovering that they see you as an officious and intrusive petty tyrant, rather than being grateful for all the help you think you’ve given them, is even more so.  Both these experiences, however, are routine for the losing side in the kind of transfer of power that’s under way in today’s America.

Part of that transfer of power is taking shape in a straightforwardly geographical way.  The Trump administration is relocating large parts of the federal government away from Washington DC, and they’re not going elsewhere in the bicoastal bubble of privilege—they’re moving to flyover country.  Two of the main bureaus of the Department of Agriculture, for example, will soon be moving to the Kansas City area, while the Bureau of Land Management is heading for Grand Junction, Colorado.  That’s fiscally prudent—office space costs a lot less in Kansas City and Grand Junction than it does in Washington DC—and it also makes much more sense to put the Department of Agriculture in the middle of farm country and the Bureau of Land Management out west, where most federal lands are located. Yet the political implications are lost on no one inside the Beltway.  When the eager young people who show up for their first day of work at the Department of Agriculture come from farm-belt schools rather than the Ivy League, a tectonic shift in the landscape of American power will have been accomplished.

That shift, however, is only part of a much broader transformation, one that’s been building for some years now and will become a massive political fact in the decades immediately ahead. The ideology and mentality of the managerial class take it as a fundamental truth that human societies can only thrive if they are controlled and manipulated by an educated elite of experts.  Those readers with a taste for intellectual history can trace that notion all the way back to Plato’s Republic, that fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings spouting “noble” lies and sending heavily armed Guardians to enforce their will, so that human beings could be made to behave the way that Plato thought they should behave.  It’s been a theme in politics and history ever since Plato’s day, but it had its greatest flowering in our own time—specifically, in the seven decades between the end of the Second World War and the era of Trump and Brexit.

Faith in managerial omnipotence, and the inescapable passivity of the individual in response to it, became so widespread during that era that even those who condemned the cult of expertise generally accepted its pretensions and contented themselves with denouncing its effects. I’m thinking here among other examples of French Situationists such as Guy Debord, who saw industrial society as a system in which spectacle was substituted for reality and the consent of the helpless masses was manufactured at will by an almighty technostructure, against which radicals could at most carry out a series of hit-and-run attacks with no hope of final victory.  For a while, too, you could hardly go onto the internet without seeing people talk about the claims made by Edward Bernays, the man who first applied Freudian psychology to advertising, and who claimed that people were helpless pawns in the hands of the clever ads that, please note, he was selling to clients. (To give him proper credit, it was apparently an effective sales pitch.)

Somehow that faith in the system’s omnipotence remained unshaken by all the ad campaigns that fell flat, all the attempts to sway public opinion that went nowhere, and the desperate scrambling that was sometimes needed when the elites tried to go one way, the masses went a different way, and the elites had to scurry over and put themselves at the head of the line of march, insisting that of course that was where they were leading people all along. The managerial classes became emotionally dependent on the belief that they were in control, that everyone and everything else in the world was an instrument they could manipulate at will, and that only their unceasing efforts would make it possible for the world to march onward, up the winding stair of progress, toward a shining Utopian future that somehow seemed to get further away with each bold step the self-anointed masters of humanity directed the rest of us to take.

I think, though, that the insurgent populism of our time is proving to be too much for even the most devout and purblind believer in managerial omnipotence to take in stride. The fact of the matter is that we’ve had seventy years of increasingly intrusive management by highly educated experts, and the world has gotten worse. Machiavelli pointed out that people will forgive the murder of their parents before they will forgive the confiscation of their family assets, and thus it should have come as no surprise that the flashpoint turned out to be economic.  The neoliberal economic policies that were supposed to bring prosperity to all brought impoverishment and immiseration to most, while allowing a privileged few to wallow in kleptocratic absurdities:  that was where the match met the fuse and the fuse led straight to the powder magazine.

Of course more was involved than that. The CNN article I cited at the beginning of this essay can stand in for all the efforts of officially approved experts to insist that people ought to ignore their own experiences of the world when those happened to be inconvenient for some corporate interest or other. At this point, when somebody in a white lab coat gets up in front of the media to shill for the food industry, or the medical industry, or the pharmaceutical industry, or one of the other bloated masses of corporate power that comprise so much of our economy these days, a very large number of people think reflexively, “He’s lying.” The mere fact that this assessment turns out to be right so much of the time is simply icing on the cake.

It was probably necessary at some point to explore the possibility that an elite of human beings, equipped with the kind of education and expertise we know how to give them, could do a better job of managing our collective affairs than all of us, using the clumsy but functional methods of representative democracy, can do on our own. (We’ve already tested out the competing claims of charismatic dictatorship and bureaucratic socialist totalitarianism, and the results are in:  those produce mass murder and other ghastly human rights abuses on a far greater scale than representative democracy does.)  Our seventy-year experiment has proven that a managerial elite with the best educations we can give them can still be catastrophically stupid and cause huge amounts of pointless and unnecessary misery. That’s worth knowing—but at this point the experiment has run its course.

Here again, though, we’re in familiar territory. American history can be usefully described as a sequence of attempted journeys toward distant shining cities that do not and cannot exist. When one such journey fails, as of course it must, we pick ourselves up, gather up whatever of value we’ve learned in the process of the last journey, and set out in a different direction. The managerial class didn’t pick the previous directions—not even the one of which it turned out to be the main beneficiary—and it won’t pick the next one either. Two weeks from now, I’ll have something to say about what that next America might be.


  1. Sometimes the only truth to be found in the mainstream media is in the immediate moments after something unexpected happens. Such was the case with the Iowa Caucuses when app based count system first failed and Mayor “cheat” declared himself the winner. There were short burst of “what the heck”, or” this isn’t right”. But by the next morning the media had settled on the “nothing to see here folks, democracy is messy and these things happen.”

  2. You have repeatedly expressed your disappointment, with the ineffectuality of the privileged elite, in furthering the deep-time sustainable interest of the populace.

    I suppose, you’ll be likewise aware, that future elites will go the same way, increasingly focus on self-serving activities instead of serving the populace as a whole, which is how elites are faring in the long run.

  3. “The neoliberal economic policies that were supposed to bring prosperity to all brought impoverishment and immiseration to most, while allowing a privileged few to wallow in kleptocratic absurdities: that was where the match met the fuse and the fuse led straight to the powder magazine.” Indeed. Yet the explosion resulted in the election to our nation’s highest office of a shallow, narcissistic billionaire wheeler and dealer and former TV game show host. As JMG is fond of saying, “the opposite of a bad idea is usually another bad idea.” Thus, I’ll be looking forward to his upcoming post which, I hope, will point to some potentially good ideas for salvaging what’s worth salvaging in American society. Frankly, I’ve long been fed up with–actually, bored by–endless descriptions and analyses of America’s obvious socioeconomic and spiritual devolution. What I’m interested in, and finding hard to find, are compelling portraits of viable alternatives (however diverse) to neoliberalism, alternatives which it conveniently insists do not exist (TINA). JMG’s “Retrotopia” was thus a most welcome read for me, as were Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” and “Equality.” Other recommendations along these lines would be appreciated.

  4. Not only a replication crisis but also a RETRACTION crisis. See Retraction Watch. So unsettling that as a retired researcher, I can’t bear to check the site more than a couple of times every month or so.

  5. What did you think of Nancy Pelosi’s behavior at the SOTU last night? Apparently she ripped up Trump’s speech and made nasty faces throughout. Except of course during the one moment of bi-partisan support – wild applause for Random Guydo – the Venezuelan coup leader, as described here:

    This to me is a very telling moment that indicates how far things have gone and how desperate the elites have become. The Iowa fiasco is another. And people are really starting to see it! Except for my very concerned climate activist friends who asked me to sign on to a petition requesting that social media sites immediately censor and de-platform all climate deniers. I responded that I am against censorship and besides it would not help but only reinforce those “denier’s” beliefs that they are right in the face of manipulative elite experts. But those friends still don’t understand what I am talking about. What ever happened to critical thinking?

  6. Wow – splendid post for a roaring comeback in the New Year.

    I’ve been boring friends, colleagues and unlucky bystanders for some time now with my theory that 2007-8, the Great Recession, will be seen by future historians as THE major inflection point of our age. That’s where populism on both sides reappeared.

    The Occupy Movement and the Tea Party both began with outrage over Wall Street’s crimes and it’s forgiveness by DC. Occupy fizzled out because it did not understand basic organizational management and change (much like the Red Army in Finland after abolishing rank and chain of command). The Tea Party got washed away by Freedom Works and other Big Republican Money looking to rebrand after W. It was funny that the Dems were able to resist their Populist impetus with Hillary but that Trump completely overwhelmed the far more organizational competent Republicans.

    I am, at least tangentially, in with the Managerial Class and NOBODY here sees this coming! On behalf of the Managers though, I’d like to say that kicking out the former colonial satraps is not always the recipe for success either. Many of the former Ottoman Empire districts that got vivisected by the Sykes-Picot Agreement are STILL waiting for something that resembles good government 100 years plus. From that point of view alone, not everything that poor old Michael Lind has to say should be rejected out of hand. It is still possible to be right but for all of the wrong reasons.

  7. I recently discovered that On the Fastrack, a sort of proto-Dilbert cartoon strip I knew from my childhood and had assumed to be defunct and long-forgotten, is still being drawn to this day. It strikes me now as a sort of blue-tribe Dilbert doppelganger, with the same peculiarly unfunny character as current SNL and other PMC comedic standbys.

    The CEO Rose Trellis is if anything even more of a nightmare boss than Dilbert‘s unnamed PHB, but there’s little of the bitter, if stifled, resentment that the latter generally inspires in evidence. Even the “good” protagonist Dethany never seems to have a crisis of conscience over serving such a sociopath, like everyone else in Rose’s employ she seems the epitome of learned helplessness. (“I know when I’m being insincere,” Rose bellows at Dethany in one strip, “tell me when other people are!”)

    Rebellion against management is scarcely thinkable, but quite a lot of attention is given to Dethany’s struggle to be accepted in the workplace as a Goth. The odd thing is, there’s virtually nothing identifiably “Goth” about Dethany’s actual personality, as the strip goes out of its way to telegraph in its title panel of her in a Disney-princess pose, with her pet raven lighting cheerfully on her finger as if possessed by the spirit of a bluebird–Dethany would fit in far better with the Munsters than she would with the Addams. (If anything her straight-laced nemesis Fi is closer to the conventional “dark feminine” stereotype.) So there’s something deeply weird about it all, about her desperation to not be seen as some sort of nonconformist despite her heroic efforts at very loudly signalling nonconformity with her appearance. (It reminds me of Lintilla in Hitchhikers’ Guide getting her doctor to periodically give her debilitating ailments in order to break up the grinding monotony of good health.) When one is the helpless tool of unthinkably powerful malevolence, what else is left?

  8. Nice to have you back. I’ve smiled my ecosophian smile a few times this last month, most recently when the new “app” for counting Iowa caucus votes blew up. Great example of too much tech solving problems that didn’t need to be solved. This really is the beginning of the end of an era, you can hear and read the pennies dropping all over the place. In very general terms, we seem to be moving from the denial and anger stages into the bargaining phase. I think the bargaining is going to be long and protracted, although most of those making bargains are going to be talking with themselves while reality continues along apace. Sad, as someone might say.

    My father grew up in China and India in the 30s and 40s, a minor functionary in the British empire. He was a lovely guy, practical and a great gardener and would have been sympathetic to many of the themes of this blog. But even in his 80s, 50 years after he left India, he still couldn’t quite deal with the fact that the British had been thrown out, not wanted, not needed. “But dear boy, we gave them railroads!” was one his favorite lines.

    Yep, we have a long and interesting season of bargaining ahead.

  9. Welcome back JMG! I had to laugh about the CNN article as my wife, who is Japanese, is sensitive to MSG. Before I even read it in your essay I was thinking she knows if a product has MSG just by eating it, no racial overtones required.

    I tend to be less dismissive of experts than some people given my background, but I think you’re correct that when lived experience deviates from what you’re being told by an “expert,” you’ll let experience guide you. I still think expertise can be helpful in many areas. It’s really a shame so many “experts” have sold out and thereby made it reasonable to call all of their opinions into question. Your writing has helped me understand why the current “crisis of expertise” exists and is unlikely to go away anytime soon. I look forward to your thoughts on the future of America in two weeks.

  10. Great to have you back John, and thanks for the essay.

    I just finished reading a satirical-speculative mystery novel that other Ecosophians may be interested in considering the theme of this weeks post. It’s called “Body Politic” by Paul Johnston. It came out in the late 90’s and is the first in a series featuring a Scotland set in 2020 (real life caught up) that has seceded from the UK -and set up a government in Ediburgh called the Enlightenment modeled on the principles in Plato’s republic -with terrible results. The detective is just out from the mines, where he’d been sentenced for being a dissenter, though now the “guardians” need his help again. The character has to listen to his Muddy Waters and Leadbelly cassettes real low so none of his neighbors can hear, as blues music has been outlawed. I liked it enough that I’ll read the others in the series over time, though there were some points where the action lagged a bit or the characters could have been given some more dimensions. But it was a good entertainment & thought experiment rolled into one.

    As far as MSG goes -I’m in the camp that try to avoid it. I know from the after effects of those really “tasty” Chili Cheese Fritos -with something like 30+ ingredients- or Doritos at a social gathering, that I’m going to feel kind of weird after eating it. Nothing too crazy, just enough to notice.

    I always thought it was kind of interesting how some of the Situationist International’s ideas -especially that of psychogeography- have gotten taken up by the more esoterically inclined side of the art scene. So much so, that the practices seem to have moved on from psychogeography to a more animist oriented interaction with the landscape.

    I believe it was Guy Debord who said, “Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.”.

  11. Fascinating! So basically part of what you’re writing is that the cosmopolitan elites have behaved more or less identically to a colonial power, and we are entering what may be termed perhaps “post-post colonial America”?

    While we may end up practicing dissensus, I’ve spent quite a bit of time envisioning the next America in the past few weeks ( and a fictive meditation on the same themes:, and came up with a splendid vision of squatter farmers re-pioneering the abandoned suburbs; old-timey bands strumming banjos and blowing horns in barns to great numbers of dancing farmhands; Shakespeare’s plays performed in the hayloft going barn to barn in the winter months people watching _Hamlet_ and _The Tempest_ in utter delight; cookouts around campfires; and nooks and crannies galore in this soil-bound economic life for all sorts of cranks, occultists, alternative healers, and intellectuals laboring side by side with former punks and nihilists during the day and spending their nights in various strange ways….

    Something, too, that I’ve wondered about, as the internet dies its slow death, is how to reverse engineer the better portions. Here I think of cassette mix tapes passed lovingly hand to hand; all sorts of short pamphlets, zines, broadsides, and the like for when one wants to sit down and read something that’s shorter than a book; people sharing their copies of _The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ with their closest friends; little impromptu puppet shows, etc.

    In all of this, perhaps, I aim a bit too far south, shaped so strongly by my reading of Magical Realist literature. That said, this sort of active creativity of normal folks strikes me as consistent in both the work of Marquez, as well as the literature by Catton concerning the US Civil war is that Post-Colonial societies can provide a structure for this sort of popular creativity.

    It seems that many of the portions of the managerial elite’s management have proven to be catastrophic failures, and it seems that there is, now, a space in which new seeds might grow in the cracks in the pavement, and some of these seeds may even grow into mighty trees. of course, I’m curious your thoughts on this JMG, and the commentariat, as they develop!

  12. If there were one change for the future I would fight for, it would be to take food production at every level away from corporations and private equity, consolidation and monopoly, and return it to the people. Ring cities and towns with small farms, maximizing food production within municipalities, while rewilding much of the land currently in commodity corn, soybeans and timber. Feeding the world by teaching them to feed themselves.

  13. John, you may be heartened to know that the National Institutes of Health, the US Government’s official health studies organization, has many articles that support your concerns about the harm of MSG. Apparently the giant fake-food corporations haven’t managed yet to subvert that organization.

    To wit, here is a summary of one article (link below) with a 2018 publication date:

    “MSG has been associated with various forms of toxicity. MSG has been linked with obesity, metabolic disorders, Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, neurotoxic effects and detrimental effects on the reproductive organs. Results from both animal and human studies have demonstrated that administration of even the lowest dose of MSG has toxic effects.”

  14. Hello Mr Greer

    I noticed a long time ago the similarities between our current western managerial elite and those who ran the Soviet union in the second half of its history. Both elites are the off spring of elites, went to the best schools, the best colleges, received the best graduate training programmes, had brilliant careers, and ran their society’s into the ground. A western journalist who was at ground zero in Moscow as communism collapsed; Peter Hitchens, observed waste bins stuffed with destroyed communist party membership cards. This was the centre of Moscow, so those cards would have largely come from members of the Soviet Unions central administration. The former owners of those cards obviously did not believe in the ideology/state that had rewarded them so well and ditched it as soon as they could. I think the western managerial elite don’t believe in the countries they run either. I have two ‘liberal’ friends to give them a label, one is a minor manager for an American global commodities trader the other works in Welfare fraud investigation. Both are looking forward to Britain’s the disintegration as fallout from Brexit. When I point out that this would means English independence (which I favour) they were a lot less happy. Neither believes in England or Britain as places to value, but problems to be managed because they are inhabited by “not nice people” whether the Tory rich, chav poor, or rural yokels. PS both are English.

    Regards Philip

  15. “The most striking characteristic of medieval reasoning, in general, is the perpetual resort to authority… ” A quote attributed to Peter Abelard, a 12th century French philosopher, seems pertinent to OUR time. When are we going to learn to think for ourselves? I’ve been reading some Charles Peirce as you suggested, JMG. Maybe we need to go back and reexamine some of the teachings of the Pragmatists. Pragmatism might be an effective defense against the assaults of the practitioners of Edward Bernays’ ideas.

  16. Welcome back JMG
    Impeccable timing for your return, although the pace of dysfunction here in Absurdistan does offer myriad opportunities for commentary. It is disturbing that satire and parody are almost indistinguishable from “serious” commentary. I sense/fear the truth of the saying- “the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” I think the metaphorical lid has been removed and we are now waiting to find out what the banquet of consequences will consist of. Your insights and observations have helped me and my family recenter and relocalise, but its going to be a new world dawning and we can shape that.

  17. Welcome back, JMG! I missed reading Ecosophia in January.
    I think the song goes “it’s all over, but the crying” and there will be a lot of crying this November.
    I have a feeling this year and the whole decade is going to be spectacular.
    I’m stocking up on popcorn, metaphorically speaking.

  18. Hi JMG & all–And welcome back!

    I do have something of an insider’s view of the collapse of legitimacy of the managerial class. As you may know, I am a practicing pharmacist, licensed both in the US and Canada, and currently practicing in Canada.
    I run into exactly this sort of cognitive dissonance all the time. Many people tell me that they don’t believe medications can help them. I myself have gone from believing that most medications are helpful most of the time, to a much more complex view–
    That prevention is always better than attempted cure;
    That any medication, prescription or not, is a risk and benefit decision to be analyzed one person at a time. One size does not fit all;
    That homeopathic meds and herbal preps often work well and may be the best choice for many people.
    That I don’t have to know or understand how something works to see that it does work and develop empirical guidelines for use;

    So as an insider, I can see the coming changes. Here’s how I am trying to change myself to meet them.

    1) I try to truly help each person who comes to me for help. I try to find a solution to the problem presented to me, and I have gone beyond my initial training to include prevention and lifestyle changes and non-drug treatments. Helping someone does not always include selling a drug, or selling anything.

    2) I try to warn long-term medication users about the possible downside of continued use, and propose alternatives. In the US and Canada, we easily start people on new medications but often forget to assess whether these things are still needed.

    3) I teach people how to use the methods of science to determine for themselves whether something is working for them or not. Anyone can use the Naranjo Method (Challenge-Dechallenge-Rechallenge) to see if an Rx, herbal, or homeopathic is helping them.

    4) For the future, our current centralized, ultra-regulated method of making and distributing medications is unsustainable. This means that if we want penicillin and aspirin (for example) we will have to make them locally out of the stuff that’s locally available. My training includes how to do that. Currently though, it’s either illegal to do so, or regulated to the point that it can’t be done without millions of dollars of investment.

    Am I on the right track here?
    What else could I do to transform my part of the practice of medicine to meet a future of collapse?

    E. Goldstein

  19. My wife is Thai, and reacts both badly and quickly to MSG. I’lll show her the article and poiint out to her she’s jut being racist. It strikes me as no coincidence at all that the absurd piece is from CNN. Glad you’re back.


  20. Another comment:

    I increasingly find Democrats to be disconnected from reality, living inside various neoliberal narratives with righteous indignation, ever more authoritarian in their reactionary stance toward Trump, often defending the indefensible.

    At the same time, while I agree with Trump on trade generally, immigration to a degree, and that the attacks on him are in the main, a “hoax”, I find his stance toward business and the biosphere to be repugnant, defending kleptoctracy, consolidation, monopoly, pollution, as well as any neoliberal. Voting for him would feel to me like a betrayal.

    All our elite hate Bernie more than they hate Trump, which is almost enough alone for me to support him. At the same time, from this political anarchist’s perspective, socialist authoritarianism is just as hideous as the capitalist kind, if maybe even worse, if the red bureaucracy of the Soviets is your measure. Though I wonder if a green new deal that was about scaling back and down and relocalizing, could be good for America. But I suspect it could well turn into an exercise in technocornucopian, top-down, renewable fantasies turned coercive and domineering, with petty tyrant technocrats proliferating like a deadly virus.


  21. Welcome back, Mr. Greer,

    About MSG, its’ presence on food labels is indicated by the word ‘spices’ and the phrase ‘natural flavors’. It seems that food processors managed to convince FDA that MSG is a natural product, and therefore did not need specific designation. When someone tells me that MSG is natural, I say that so is cocaine and I choose not to ingest either one.

    Accusations of racism have been hurled at the organic food movement, and even at gardeners, for at least the last two decades. Plant a tomato plant and you are taking food out of the mouths of a hoard of deserving farm and processing workers, we are told. Never mind that people have to eat and there will always be a need for farmers and farm workers.

  22. Clay, it was quite the spectacle. I’ve seen what purports to be a screenshot of the New York Times website from the night of the caucuses, showing Sanders well ahead and Biden in fifth place — which was pulled down within minutes and replaced with the claim that somehow not only the app but the phone backup had inexplicably failed. I don’t claim to know exactly what happened and why, but it’s certainly suspicious.

    Hubertus, of course, Human beings don’t think well when it comes to long-term planning — and that’s as true of elites as it is of the masses. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity was no straight thing ever made…”

    Newtonfinn, to my mind it was crucial to examine the unraveling of the managerial state and the failed pretensions of the comfortable classes in detail, since so many people still remain mired in fantasies of inevitable progress and meaningful expertise. If you got past that ahead of others, I’m glad to hear it. As for my ideas concerning the next America, I trust you won’t be surprised if I go off in unexpected directions; the reason there are so few compelling alternatives to neoliberalism being proposed is that so many of the people who are trying to come up with such alternatives accept the worldview and the mythic beliefs that make neoliberalism seem inevitable. More on this as we proceed.

    Thomas, many thanks for this! I imagine a lot of scientists are pretty horrified by what’s being made public these days about scientific malpractice and fraud.

    Mister N, that seems like a very plausible analysis…

    Seaweedy, I hope Pelosi doesn’t mind having her little tantrum splashed across Trump For President ads from now until the election. Honestly, the slightest little bit of self-awareness would have told her just how childish that looked — and just how quickly and efficiently the other side could weaponize it.

    KevPilot, I don’t dismiss Lind out of hand. I simply put his writing in historical context, and predict the likely outcome. For what it’s worth, I don’t think we’re going to see a complete collapse of the managerial class, not least because the lower echelons of it — especially in the flyover states — are by no means as loyal to the status quo as their soi-disant betters like to think. I suspect, though, that signs saying some equivalent of WILL CONSULT FOR FOOD are going to be fairly common in the bicoastal bubble in the not too distant future…

    G’Qan’Eth, fifty years from now somebody’s going to do a doctoral dissertation on how that comic strip highlights the internal contradictions of late stage elite liberalism…

    Mark, I think you’re quite correct. I was interested to see CNN, of all places, talking about how Trump’s approval ratings are marching upwards — they’re noticeably above Obama’s at this stage in their respective presidencies — and how the sharp improvements in the blue collar economy, especially among African-Americans, are making life difficult for the Democrats. The fact that they’re mentioning these things suggests to me that they’re starting to grapple with the fact that they’ve backed the wrong donkey.

    Ryan, I rely on experts in quite a range of fields — unfortunately that has to be balanced against a clear awareness of just how much fakery and corruption goes on behind the mask of expertise these days.

    Justin, hah! That sounds fun — I’ll see if I can make time to read it. As for the Situationists, that’s good to hear. Somebody needs to go through their work and come up with a critical synthesis that builds on the very good points they made but takes apart the places where Debord et al. were too much people of their own time.

    Violet, I hope we do end up practicing dissensus. Historically, dissensus has been one of the core themes of American cultural history, and a case could be made that the attempt by the managerial elite to impose cultural uniformity on this nation is one of the things that did most to drive the blowback that put Trump into office.

  23. This has to happen as cheap and easy resources contract. If it isn’t forced socially, then resources will force it over this next generation.

    It has to happen because by dragging all the elite and associated sycophants to DC and various state capitols, the elite isolate themselves and their echo chamber cranks out batship crazy things that normal people just read in dumbfounded disbelief. I read somewhere this week that Schiff or some other congress-critter hadn’t been back to their respective state in 9 years. All they have for reality is what is bouncing around in their elite bubble.

    I think what is happening in the Virginia statehouse is a very similar problem. Here in Texas, Austin and the local Hill Country have grown into a state-elite bubble as well – but the walls are not near as thick as Federal.

    Interesting to me also is the further polarization of the two parties – Pelosi throwing her fit at the SOTU was quite the crowd pleaser for some, yet terribly divisive for all. However, it does appear that the one party is about to self-destruct. The other is likely to divide in the vacuum of the Trump persona departing. Those divisions may well propagate into actual cracks in the Federal structure we currently have. I asked my very liberal wife what would happen to her party if there was no Trump-devil to unite them. We had quite the conversation, and she eventually admitted that there was little that united them outside of TDS, and then just said, “I HATE that guy!”

    Most everyone here is likely to agree that government by Federal fiat (and we have that, whether the edict is from Congress or Executive branches) from one central location is not working for nearly enough of us. It also requires a lot of money that only corporations have to force changes, at least until things get worse and the pitchforks get honed by citizens. These changes are rarely in the best interest of we the people.

    I guess my point is that these elites seem to all be in enclaves insulated from daily life of us hoi-polloi. It might be NYC, DC, San Diego or Bora Bora – but these bubble capitols and their herds of government officials and employees are all basically detached from those they are allegedly serving.

    Honestly, in a country of 300,000,000+ people, can 535 people effectively work when they each have 600,000+ constituents? The answer is a resounding ‘no’, when evidence shows us that most people can remember 5000 faces but not their names, and can only maintain 150-200 friendships. Expectations need to be drastically curtailed when considering centralized governance.

    Just some thoughts after reading your piece today – good for you to jump back in JMG.

  24. An interesting post, as usual. One thing that bothers me about Trump’s blue collar voters is that they, like Trump himself, get their information from television rather than from reading. In that sense I’d have to agree that they are “low information voters.” You might counter that they are seeing firsthand how their own lives have improved and basing their support of Trump on that. The firsthand facts may or may not be apparent to them, but the interpretations or deliberate misinterpretations of those facts are for the PR types to provide. For example, Bush wasted no time in providing the ruling interpretation of the 9/11 attacks: they hate us for our freedom. Years later, few openly question the Bush line. On the foreign policy front, the effects here in “the homeland” are less easy to see unless you have a family member who has been directly affected. We Americans remain well-insulated. So selective reporting of the news from our overseas wars, along with the interpretation favored by the elite are both left up to the PR people and pliable editors. It’s pretty similar on the environmental scene, unless you live downwind or downriver from a CAFO or unless your neighborhood has become a cancer cluster or unless you live in Australia. It’s interesting, however, to contemplate how a sudden rise in sea level will be misinterpreted away. None of this is meant to imply that the pathetic Democrats are offering much of an alternative.

  25. There is a very useful term on the left called ‘hypernormalzation”, which, when coined, referred to how managing elites in the old Soviet union (and everyone else) knew that their system wasn’t working but were also unwilling to imagine an alternative, so they kept acting as if it was working while retreating further and further into delusion. Of course, this can’t last forever and the whole thing collapsed. The same thing is currently happening in America (or rather, the ‘American’ global system which includes Canada, Australia, and most of Europe and lot of places everywhere else).

    The political system is in the later stages of collapse. Trump (well, the forces behind him) did away with many of the old guard neo-cons. The Democrats are following closely, their own managerial elite fighting a loosing battle against Trumpian disdain on one hand and their own nascent populist movement on the other. The business elite is still in the very early stage of collapse, but it’s getting there, and anyone hoping for any sort of corporate savior is going to be very disappointed. Corporations are as bureaucratic as the worst governments, and have only a vaguely more coherent picture about what’s going on. Look at WeWork if you want a recent example of how bad things are getting.

    People are getting sick of politicians (both left and right) and corporations who use the language of wealth and choice to take away what they see as theirs, who pander to identity rather than address actual needs, and who promise to fix problems while selling out their country to the highest bidder.

  26. Yeah, the dark horse won in Iowa under mysterious circumstances!

    Have you seen the internet scenario Our Fathers’ Stars Mr. Greer? It was created by a Colorado-based engineering student in the middle of the last decade (he has been missing for years). Based on the boomer upheavals of 1968, he conceived of the world and politics of 2068, when today’s millennials will be the age of contemporary boomers. What happens, in a nutshell, is that in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and climate change (cumulatively called “The Long Crisis”), the world’s major governments and corporations create the Vienna Consensus of 2029 where laissez-faire neoliberalism is replaced by “post-liberalism” based on technocracy, extreme privatization, and social credit. Think Singapore with basic income. Here are the future political spectrums of the US and UK:

    Based on the descriptions what would you say your positions are on the 2068 spectrum?

    Mr. Greer, given that the early 21st Century Caesarism forcasted by Spengler seems to be coming true, do you think the “second religiousness” of the late 21st Century and early 22nd Century will still appear on forecast. In “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?”, Canadian-British scholar Eric Kaufmann views closed fundamentalist sects who reject the modern world and grow through high retention and birth rates such as the Mormons, Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Quiverfull Protestants as being the best model for success in the modern world as long as they are tolerated. Here is a map projecting the growth of Mormons and Amish over the next century:

  27. Welcome back John! I see the current Corona virus outbreak as a existential test for the administrative state. Failure to effectively address the epidemic will be the death knell for whatever legitimacy the state retains. Look for severe consequences in China after epidemic abates.

  28. Regarding the illusion of control, see also the currently fashionable belief in the awesome power of micro-targeted social media advertising, which is also (coincidentally!) based on studies carried out by the people selling it, and rife with fairly obviously flawed reasoning. When that particular shell game folds, it’s going to wipe a neck of a lot off the share values of a number of big internet companies…

  29. Great essay. “Not eating MSG is racist.” Dear Gods. At this point, Social Justice is flying a rocket-powered motorcycle over the head of Great Cthulhu himself.

    Something, possibly tangential, that came to mind while reading this–

    First, do you remember the hysterical (in both senses of the word) Rolling Stone article about how refusing to masturbate to internet pornography meant that you were probably an Alt-Right racist? One of the responses to it came from The American Conservative ( The author of the TAC article in question rightly pointed out how absurd the Rolling Stone article was. But when it came to the “NoNutNovember” movement itself, he sided with Rolling Stone in believing that all the NoFappers claims about increases in energy and mental health resulting from abstention from masturbation must be nonsense.

    At the time, I didn’t completely understand it. But there is an exact relationship of the A:B::C:D between the Rolling Stone article and the TAC response to it on the one hand, and the CNN article and the Michael Lind book you’ve described here on the other. In each case we have an establishment mouthpiece flinging the word “racist” at anyone who dares to step outside the conventional wisdom of our time, on the one hand, and on the other, an attempt by establishment insiders to co-opt some of the outsiders’ perspective while holding onto the elite worldview. Of course, the poor people can’t be left to govern themselves; of course, peoples’ actual experiences of their actual lives is crazy.

    I suppose we’ll be seeing much more of this as we move forward.

    By the way, I got a lot of extra reading done while you were on your break. On my Dreamwidth (, I’m continuing to make my way through Plotinus’s Enneads one piece at a time. On the side I’ve been reading Proclus’s Elements of Theology, taking 1-2 propositions per day, while also meditating my way through The Art of War and Picatrix, and re-learning my tai chi sword forms. This mental productivity began to drop immediately with the Return of Magic Monday. Clearly I need to find a more intentional way to relate to your work on the internet!

  30. Welcome back JMG and everyone

    The news that some federal agencies are moving out of Washington is great news. I have thought for years that both those departments, Agriculture and BLM, should be moved to where they are going. It just makes sense. Many other departments should be spread out around the country.
    It is interesting that i haven’t heard about this anywhere else. One of the things that is driving this questioning of experts is just how lousey journalism is today. I am a pretty well informed fellow. I routinely know more about lots of stories than people I know. However without this blog I wouldn’t have heard that the agriculture department is moving. I work in agriculture. That is something that i should have heard about. This should be out there but it isn’t. Lots of other stories are also like that. It is hard to trust the experts in journalism when fail so often.

  31. The book wrote by Michael Kind, is the offering of an olive branch, that according with the next post:

    Is layered in an intent of certain elites for to escape of the debacle of globalism.

    The Economist Mikhail Khazin writes that the globalist- liberals know that they have lost the war against the makro regionalist-populists, and they are trying to bought the peace surrending as scapegoats , the following countries: Ucrania, Poland, the Baltic Countries. And probably too the globalist- neocon will be included in the package.

    There will be necessary for the globalist-liberals to denounce that those space goats are responsable of all the disgraces provoked by the globalism and too of a lot of terrorist attacks, and other calamities.

  32. There once was a druid named Greer,
    Whose musings the clueless should fear,
    His ideas’re sublime,
    His name’s easy to rhyme,
    So to him we all wish a great year. (Belatedly!)

    Welcome back!

  33. If anything in food is safe, then is cyanide poisoning a myth? Hydrogen cyanide is found in apples (among other places), after all…

  34. This has been widely shared by my left wing friends with PhDs and government or consulting scientist incomes. I’m not certain they’ve followed all the steps on what will happen if they do join cross class coalitions to dismantle neoliberalism through democracy, but at least if they do follow his advice, they’ll do better than they would otherwise.

  35. John, welcome back! Alternatives are needed for the current mindmess. Too many people still think “binary” about politics as they’re trained/meant to. D’s and R’s establishments are the equivalent of Bloods/Crips or Dion O’Bannion vs. Capone (yes, I’m a Chicagoan). Keep up the good work!

  36. @ Seaweedy:

    Critical thinking was carefully excised from education curricula decades ago. We’ve now reaped the whirlwind, with entire non-thinking generations having raised non-thinking children. Worse, most of them think they’re the best and the brightest, because that’s what they’ve always been told… Of course, the older, ossified generations cling to obsolete nostrums because they worked or were at least more true when they were in the prime of their lives… it’s often hard to say which flavor of delusion is worse.

  37. Good to have you back!

    I think Trump probably has it in the bag, but I’m not so sure if Bernie gets the nomination. Trump hasn’t done much to bring left leaning populists into his camp, and with the right younger VP – Tulsi Gabbard perhaps – I think Bernie would have a good chance of victory

    My other thought this week is “what comes after Trump?”. The left has fears of a democracy-ending family dynasty-cum-dictatorship, and while I don’t really believe it, I’m still wondering how I will feel about our nation’s new direction if/when it isn’t spearheaded by a narcissistic bully. I trust you are heading that direction in coming weeks…

  38. Hi JMG, it is good to see you back.

    With regards to the CNN article, I ran into a CBC radio broadcast on the opposition to msg being a) wrong, and b) racist. So sadly, this isn’t a CNN or USA only issue.

    I’ve seen claims of racism used to shut down points of view the the writer disagreed with, notably when discussing the problem of foreign investment and money laundering in Vancouver’s housing crisis. It didn’t work very well, but it made the whole discussion nastier than it needed to be. Not least because there is some real racism going on as well that really does need to be called out, as well as the people trying to talk about very real phenomena that are hurting a lot of people and need to be dealt with.

  39. Thank you Mr. Greer for another article. I have to admit, January was unusually long without my favorite bit of weekly reading 😉

    I know in many of your pre 2016 work you seemed to believe that domestic insurgency lay in America’s future. I can tell you as someone who works in a fly over state factory and spends his days surrounded by blue collar guys with NRA apparel galore that most of the extremely well armed, previously discontent labor class seems very pleased with where things are now headed. I am increasingly confident that if the election turns violent the Bikers for Trump and NRA will be fighting alongside the police, which means anything the “Resistance” can offer will break quickly.

    I had thought that maybe the Democratic Party might try to regain the labor class with a Bernie Sanders style candidate, but the Iowa couscous seems to show that the party elite wants to repeat the tactics of the last election… so that is starting to look very unlikely. Which brings me to an observation about race from Toynbee that you have mentioned before. You note that early on in the downward trend of a civilization racial tensions flare up, but eventually those tensions wither as economic concerns become more dominant. I use to live in Gloucester City where one of the largest race riots in the north occurred. It was a blue collar, Irish Catholic town next to black Camden on the New Jersey side of the Philadelphia suburbs. 50 years ago it was absolutely divided by race. Now, there are mixed marriages everywhere and one of the whitest kids I ever met was courted by the Bloods to join their gang. Meanwhile the Pagans (a white gang, not a religious group) no longer bother to defend their old city against minority gangs. It seems to me that race is becoming a less serious division on the lower end of the economic spectrum while the elite keep on frantically trying to make everything a racial issue (presumably because racial divisions keep the poor divided and stop the lower classes from uniting against the elite).

    Given this trend, where do you think we are in our descent? Do you think the 2020 election is what snaps race bating and other ad hominum attacks like the one in your CNN article? Knustler said in a post a couple days ago that he thought the Democratic Party might have a schism and divide into two separate camps. If this happened I assume upper middle class whites would no longer be able to count on minority votes with virtue signalling. If I understand your article correctly you seem to think the elite class is basically a corpse waiting to collapse, so I am curious to know if you have a rough timeline for this.

    I ask as someone who has a job opportunity on the East Coast, so choosing whether to remain in flyover America or head back East in the near future is something that’s been on my mind, and how these larger, cultural trends are moving is most of what I’ve been thinking about during my days at the factory.

  40. JMG, Nice to encounter your distinct perspective again. Hearing about the Iowa brouhaha and observing how skillfully Trump manipulated the reality-TV genre to include ordinary people in the SOTU address, I’m afraid that the ball is in the Prez’s court right now. Hearing about the daily degradation of our ecosystems, I feel a terrible grief, extending beyond a personal one, for the great number of creatures and life-forms that are dying under our hands. You may be right about the ineptness of the Dems in the matter of social and economic relevance. But they wouldn’t be pulling down the environmental protections that have prevented us from choking on our own fumes, as many Third World countries are doing. They also wouldn’t be pulling out of the Paris Accords along with many other actions that amount to selling off the earth to the highest bidder. You pointed out in “The Long Descent” (or maybe it was “Dark Ages America,” sorry I don’t have the books in front of me right now) that we could have solved the climate dilemma by turning to solar energy 30 years ago–but we didn’t, and it’s too late to reverse it. What is your present take on all this? Perhaps you’ll do a SOTE (State of the Earth) post for us soon.

  41. William, you may be pleased to know that here in Brisbane, Australia, there is a small but growing movement of urban farming in the outer suburbs. People are struggling to produce food outside the massive factory model, constrained of course by the current economic and legal system. They are finding a ready market for their produce using social media. Over the recent Australia Day long weekend, one farmer appealed for help to prepare his land and got several volunteers to spend their holiday pulling sod and preparing the soil for planting.

    JMG, thank you for the weekly clue-by-four; as a former managerial elite (raised by farmers) I am especially pleased to hear about the government department move back out to the people they allegedly serve.

  42. I was listening to the radio a few hours after this essay was published and happened to hear this programme about a peculiarly English response to the fact that a number of people have found themselves at their wits end with the current economic situation.

    I hope that’s available outside the UK (the BBC says most of their online stuff is).

    Its about ‘lawful rebellion’, the idea that due to a clause in the Magna Carta, the Queen, Elizabeth II was deposed around 20 years ago and that now all government institutions are a sham. More to the point, they don’t have to be paid in the form of tax. I think the reporter was more bemused than sneering at the obviously working class exponents of the idea.

    It’s fair to say that that the rebels overestimate the power of a legal theory to immediately improve their lives. The reporter spotted that all of these people had been drawn to LR by external economic pressures, but in the section I heard, he completely failed to see that the current impotence of the idea was merely a matter of numbers. If enough people enter a ‘state of lawful rebellion’, then government ultimately collapses. I suspect that that percentage might be smaller than is commonly supposed.

    The recent political developments with respect to Brexit may take some of the heat out of the situation but I was interested to learn that just under the surface of a relatively placid society, there are the visible seeds of a civil war.

  43. The irony about “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” is that these days, American chain restaurants use far more MSG than most Chinese restaurants do. The folks I know who are sensitive to MSG have to avoid national chain restaurants completely, and avoid gravies, sauces, soups, stews, chili, and salad dressings in almost all American-food restaurants. By contrast, they can easily find Chinese restaurants that don’t use MSG.

    But of course, that doesn’t fit the narrative at any point…

  44. @JMG – Good to have you back, and I hope you enjoyed your break!

    Two questions:
    1- In my view, Trump is not a populist change agent, but seems to be doing everything he can to shift power in America from the government/academic faction of the managerial class, to the corporate faction. From what I’ve read, corporate shareholders and big business benefited from his tax cuts and the slashing of regulations far more than any wage earner or small business owner. And the jobs that have been created over the past three years are largely the same as the ones created under Obama, that is, they pay better than minimum wage, but about half what the jobs that left used to pay. So, my question is; when do the real populists show up?

    2- I know it is early in the process, but do you think the Sanders campaign can overcome the meddling of the managerial class of the Democratic Party, or will it be a repeat of 2016?

  45. The title of that first article should have been “MSG Manufacturer Finds No Evidence of MSG Sensitivity. And They Think You’re Racist” or perhaps “CNN Now Publishing Paid Advertisements for Food Industry”. At any rate, that one was brazen. They uncritically quoted Ajinomoto (the MSG manufacturer) as their main source!

    I do hope the managerial class starts the retreat soon. They’re losing credibility at an astonishing rate, but they still seem to hold a lot of power. Think they’ll let go of it peacefully? The other options are ghastly.

  46. KevPilot, a good ironic observation: “It was funny that the Dems were able to resist their Populist impetus with Hillary but that Trump completely overwhelmed the far more organizational competent Republicans.” Food for thought there, and a prescient catch.

    JMG, welcome back, and I hope the brief sabbatical was restorative, although I’m sure you stayed busy too. I do hope that we can prevent the worst excesses, or at least collectively try to abstain from them, that dissensus and populism entail. If you read or peruse a book like this,
    you can see that there are definitely some valid dangers and points to be made in the transition to “independence” and “freedom”, which crisis can be co-opted or taken of by opportunists and people who are, frankly, worse than the old overlords, worse in every category and on every count. Everything can be justified by being made to seem inevitable. That said, I am certainly not mourning the passing of the era. There is going to be a lot of work to do, and a lot of belt tightening, sacrifice, etc. And you are doing yeoman’s work in that field, for which I thank you heartily. A sense of humor (noticeably absent since 9-11 and the dawn of PC) would not go amiss, perhaps even gallows humor.

  47. Have not read the whole post yet – but MSG… Ok, the term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” is slightly misleading since you can find MSG in large quantities in any meal in any restaurant which pretends to cook but in fact just warms up convenience food. But since the label is racist which is evil, it has to be false and with it any other negative thing any other racist wrongly claimed about MSG also has to be false. Which obviously means it is healthy. Couldn’t believe what you’ve written until I’ve skimmed the article myself.

    My wife, for example, is very sensitive to MSG, becomes rather exhilarated after consuming large quantities and reacts (among other symptoms) with hypertension. Our children usually only eat what we cook and are not used to MSG in quantities larger than what can be found in natural products. You should see how they react when they (seldom, but it happens) get exposed to convenience food, those little racists. They easily drink three to four times as much water as usual to quench their thirst. We just don’t stop fetching another glass of water when we’re putting them to bed after they consumed something containing lots of MSG.

    But behind MSG and the like lies – at least in my opinion – a deeper tragedy. It is almost impossible to get people who are used to food that contains MSG in large quantities to enjoy a self-cooked meal with fresh, high-quality ingredients no matter how delicious it may be. Those people have just lost any sense for taste, texture, nuances, etc. But along with this lack of sensitivity comes a lack of interest for the ingredients and where they come from and how they are produced. More generally, chronic MSG intoxication causes disinterest in and alienation from the world. In overdose, it’s a sense killer.


  48. The great MSG debate lives on. My daughter was sensitive to it, but has grown out of it. Glutamate is a very common constituent in proteins. It’s odd that one would be sensitive to glutamate in one form when the body is saturated with it. I’ve often wondered if it’s not the glutamate, but something traveling with it, like “yeast extract”, or the always popular “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” (Yummy) that causes the problems.

    Personally, I can’t taste it. Mother had a bottle on the spice shelf, and could eat a whole spoonful and taste nothing. No ill effects either. I wondered why she even had it. Some recipe must have called for it.

  49. William, fair enough — that’s certainly one dream worth pursuing.

    Jim, thanks for this.

    Philip, that sounds about right. The contempt of the managerial elite for the people they’re supposed to be helping is one of its tackiest features.

    Dana1, nothing terrifies most people more than being expected to think for themselves. That being the case, I’d be willing to settle for less of a monoculture of ideas.

    Misterodwin, if the truth doesn’t make you want to fling it at the wall at least occasionally, you’re not paying enough attention to it!

    Polytropos, “go long on popcorn” sounds like good investment advice to me. 😉

    E. Goldstein, that strikes me as a very good set of approaches to start from.

    Christopher, I hope she finds it amusing!

    William, the Green New Deal is simply an excuse for more top-down control. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. An actual movement toward a less idiotic attitude toward Nature would aim at bottom-up, grassroots change, and would include cutting back on the absurd extravagances of the privileged classes — which is why we won’t see it as a policy of either party (though it may well happen all by itself).

    Nastarana, it’s astonishing how consistently the word “racism” has come to stand for any behavior that doesn’t support the ascendancy of the corporate managerial elite…

  50. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for your response. Thinking on it not only do I hope that we practice dissensus but that the sort of bleak policing of thoughts that has been so de rigueur for the entirety of my life, may go the way of the dinosaurs. It seems entirely possible to practice dissensus and to maintain civil and friendly relationships! And to even be interested in the nature of disagreements and to learn from them without anyone needing to be wrong.

    Part of what has made the Cult of Expertise so depressing, to my heart at least, is the way it enforces such a brittle reality. I’ve lost countless friends by virtue of such small differences of opinion, that I imagine we could have laughed off if we hadn’t been inculcated with the idea that there only is and can only ever be one one totally correct answer arrived at by experts. The idea that people might be able to accept one another’s irreducibly personal viewpoints as valid and not try to play the part of Expert would be such a great relief.

    In a real sense then, the end of this dream, and the realization of its limitation opens up a creative space where various changes and visions may grow.

  51. @JMG,

    Welcome back! It feels good to be reading a serious blog again – Dmitry Orlov and the Saker are good, but they haven’t got half the intellectual depth of your work.

    Your newest post gives me a lot to unpack, though it appears you are making two main points: first, that what the managerial classes/elite of experts has been doing to our society is awful and that eventually there will be a big bloody bill to pay, and second, that the electoral success of Trump/Brexit is the beginning of the end for this state of affairs.

    On the first point, I am completely agreed with you. Present-day America is an intensely class-stratified society; at the top level, amorality reigns and nearly all institutions are acting out of shoddily-disguised self-interest. As someone who was raised in a comfortable, middle-class home and now holds two bachelor-of-science degrees, it might have been easy for me to overlook the problems of modernity; on the other hand, seeing your best friend at age 12 destroyed by a Ritalin dependency really speeds up the process of coming to terms with what the guiding principles of today’s scientific and medical and educational establishments really are.

    On the second point – even though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – I think you are showing quite a bit of naive optimism. Your hopes for Trump & Co. making a lasting and positive change seem to rest on three legs: first, that the new populist movement commands an overwhelming majority that will win and just keep winning until it gets what it’s demanding, second, that once in power, Trump and his supporters will prove willing and able to enact the policies they’ve promised, and third, that said policies consist of pragmatic responses to the problems that this country is facing.

    My own opinion is that all those legs are rather weak. To begin with, the Trump election was a squeaker: the guy lost the popular vote, and he would have lost the electoral vote, too, if his margins had been just 1% lower in the swing states. Then, in 2018, the Democrats retook the House, just like the opposition party usually does in midterm elections. Brexit was also a squeaker: 52% to 48%. This just doesn’t look, to me, like an inexorable wave of populist victories.

    As for Trump getting his policies enacted, you’ve got to remember that the number one thing he promised his voters (and the one that those voters – myself included – chanted about at the rallies) was the border wall. He didn’t build it. And he didn’t repeal the affordable care act, either. The trade war seems to be working, but only in the sense that trade deficit today is the same size as when Trump took office and not bigger. Moving some of the agriculture offices to the Midwest is a good idea; I knew Republicans had been chattering about that for a while, but I wasn’t aware he done it until today. It will probably make a small but real improvement in a lot of peoples’ lives. The incarceration rate is lower than it used to be, but still the highest in the world. So on the whole, I don’t think that Trump’s policy achievements really justify the sweeping conclusions you’ve made in your essay.

    Now for the third point, whether Trump’s policies are all that pragmatic to begin with. Did you listen to his speech last night? It was all about how the economy is roaring, and how regulations are all that’s standing between us and massive growth, and how America is now energy independent, and how people all over the world are looking forward to the United States saving them from tyrannical regimes in places like Venezuela and Iran, and how America has a “manifest destiny in the stars,” and about “unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored,” and how our nation’s future will be unimaginably better than its present and its past.

    So basically, every attitude of contemporary society that you’ve devoted your last fourteen years of blogging both here and on the Archdruid Report to picking apart and denouncing six ways from Tuesday.

    The odd thing is that, while I hold a lot of the same views on industrial society, its premises, and its future that you do, I tend to hold them to a more moderate degree: i.e. I think that western civilization puts way too much faith in the ability of its technology to solve problems rather than creating them, and that it’s approaching the “decline and fall” phase of the historical cycle, but I also have a positive opinion of nuclear power and see nothing impractical about having a few hundred scientists living on Mars.

    And yet, when it comes to Trump, I see a few small but real improvements amid a background of business-as-usual, and you see a sea change. So I am really curious: do you think that Trump believes, deep down, in all the things he spouted off about during the State of the Union last night?

    Is it a matter of him having his head full of the same nonsense as everyone else, but at least having enough respect for the common man to pursue the policies that the working class cares about and not lord it over them like a typical condescending technocrat? Because if that’s the sum of what you’re saying about him, I can agree with it. I see Trump as a small but real improvement over every other contender for the presidency, and I plan to vote for him again this November. I just don’t think his presidency has made nearly so big of a break with the past as your recent essays seem to indicate.

  52. Last night, we watched Nancy Pelosi petulantly tear up Trump’s speech. Not to be outdone in absurdity, the president put a medal on a guy who was once caught heading for the Dominican Republic. With a bottle of Viagra. That had been prescribed to somebody else.

    These things happened in a country that, a mere half-century ago, put men on the moon—a pointless goal, perhaps, but inarguably one that required the attention of grownups to achieve. What went wrong in that half-century?

  53. Welcome back, JMG! Much food for thought there. The fiasco in Iowa may or may not have a sinister explanation; “never put down to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” And throw in smartphone apps …. whose bright idea was it to depend on one of those?

    The impeachment hearing were political theater from beginning to end, but I do hope Orange Julius doesn’t saddle us with a dynasty or with a president-for-life.

    That’s why Julius Caesar was assassinated; he proclaimed himself dictator-for-life, something not even Lucius Cornelius Sulla had the gall to do. And we got a dynasty in that stone-cold pair of – today they’d be technocrats – Octavianus and Livia. No resemblance to any 2nd generation members of the King in Orange’s tribe, I’m sure.

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

  54. Because tentacles 🦑 are always relevant—

    I was playing Codycross, a trivia game, and guess who turned up as an answer? Feeler-face himself! And spelled correctly!

  55. Journalist Pepe Escobar has recently posted on Facebook his review of Emmanuel Todd’s newest book, Les Luttes de Classes en France au XXIᵉ Siecle, currently only available in French. With your permission, I’ll paste it here because it’s relevant for the discussion (it’s public on Pepe’s Facebook profile, so I think it’s ok to share):


    This is THE book to read to understand what’s goin’ on in France – which is now, once again, projected at the forefront of the wider European and Western malaise.

    I read it in virtually one sitting. Todd revives Marx, of course – with plenty of panache: “Class struggle is France. Marx of course extended the concept to a planetary scale, but he had no doubt that the birthplace of the modern class struggle was France. Much more than hunting Arabs and homosexuals, class struggle is our identity”.

    Here are some of the highlights, probably a first in English anywhere, of THE book that is launching the Raging Twenties in Europe.

    Todd describes in vivid detail – using deep research, charts, numbers – an impoverished society in every social strata, bound to be even poorer if it stays within the euro.

    He introduces the fabulous concept of “high-placed losers”, defined as Functionaries and Superior Intellectual Professions (CPIS, according to the French acronym). That’s the petit bourgeoisie which is totally despised by those above them (the 1%), which Todd defines as the “state-financial aristocracy”.

    He proves how those who govern France think of themselves as liberals but are nothing but representatives of the Deep State, top functionaries who do not even understand what the market is all about.

    Todd identifies in France a central atomized mass of intermediate professionals, artisans, skilled employees, agriculture practitioners, which did not vote for Le Petit Roi Macron but allowed him to get the necessary 24% to reach the second round in the 2017 presidential election.

    And he identifies a central blob which represents no less than 55% of the French population – away from the Macron-Le Pen polarization. That’s the new silent majority.

    The fundamental, overall trend, as Todd sees it, is IMPOVERISHMENT. And that leads to Todd’s fascinating analysis of the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests.

    He qualifies then as a proletariat – AND a proletariat that captures huge popular sympathy, at a 70% level, unlike the National Front, which always finds itself, on the second round of elections, opposed by two thirds of the French population.

    The Yellow Vests are poorer than the intermediate professions. Their monthly revenue is around 1,400 euros a month, while the people demonstrating at the peripheral roundabouts, the initial spark for the movement, barely reach around 1,000 euros a month.

    Todd also evokes, in multiple instances, the miserable salaries of French teachers compared to the rest of Europe.

    He RIPS the Macron government to shreds: no power of monetary creation, incapable of changing trade rules. And he has the courage to indict Macronia as a government of THUGS: “Oral Macronist violence. Violence of economic measures that condemn the Gilets Jaunes to economic death. Police violence.”

    Thus the graphic parallel (my analysis) with some evil dictator “repressing his own people” – and yes, apart from grenades and water cannons, GASSING his own people, firefighters, as seen here:

    Le Petit Roi ruling over a government of thugs is something already imprinted in the Gilets Jaunes collective unconscious – starting with the Minister of Interior, a thug who used to play poker with mafia types in Marseille in his old days.

    Todd repeatedly stresses the desire of vengeance over the French people by a failed ruing class which lost its leadership place in Europe and now must duly obey Germany.

    “We usually describe the popular milieu as Little White Men hostile to immigrants, displaying their rage against a supposedly inferior category.” He then describes the 2017 Macronist as “a sort of Little White Man in the second degree, who displays his rage against the French prolos” while “the state-financial aristocrat, humiliated by Germany or the US, who displays his rage over the petit-bourgeois, is a Little White Man to the third degree.”

    A sublime portrait of a royal mess. Electric. Must read.»

  56. So excited to have you back and looking forward to more posts.

    @Michael V Spangler: “Glutamate is a very common constituent in proteins. It’s odd that one would be sensitive to glutamate in one form when the body is saturated with it.”

    Time for the friendly neighborhood biologist to jump in with his random rants again! Yes, glutamate is in all protein including that of your cells and your food. But there, it is mostly but not all locked up in long polymers with other amino acids. When you eat protein, those long polymers are broken down into short fragments and then individual amino acids by digestive enzymes and gut bacteria over a timescale of hours. MSG is just sodium and free glutamate in a form that instantly dissolves in water and is thus instantly absorbed, so you get a big pulse entering your circulation all at once rather than slowly.

    Rather importantly, neurons all over your body use glutamate as an excitatory neurotransmitter to activate other neurons. The local concentration at the synapse is way higher than the concentration you get in your blood from MSG but I would not be at all surprised at it tilting the pinball machine so to speak, making it easier for one cell to activate another. Like how nicotine works on acetylcholine receptors throughout the body, but weaker since nicotine is many times as strong as the substance it’s mimicking rather than just the substance itself. Like all substances, some people’s biology is presumably more and less sensitive to this than others.

  57. Oilman2, those are good points.

    Phutatorius, interesting. The Trump voters I see don’t get their news from the TV at all — quite the contrary, they condemn the TV networks as founts of liberal propaganda (and yes, they include Fox in that). They tend to use news aggregator websites on the internet, and based on my observations, they very often have a better grasp of what’s going on in the world than your average CNN-watching Democrat.

    Andrew001, yes, very much so. Dmitry Orlov’s argument that we potentially face a Soviet-style collapse seems very prescient just now.

    Aidan, no, I hadn’t encountered Our Fathers’ Stars, but I’ve seen many science fiction futures not too different. As for the Second Religiosity, it’s already getting under way, though it has a long way to go before it becomes the immense cultural force it will become.

    Raymond, possibly, but I haven’t yet seen any evidence that the Wuhan coronavirus is worse than a fairly bad flu. Still, we’ll see.

    Dunc, got it in one. There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that internet advertising is worth much, much less than it costs…

    Shaun, good heavens — you snuck that up on me! I thought it was going to be later this month. I’ll get some announcements up shortly.

    Steve, excellent. The American Conservative is indeed exactly parallel to Lind: they’re trying to co-opt some of the populist surge for the benefit of certain religious and political elites.

    Will O, the thing to keep in mind is that the mainstream media in the US is engaged in frantic defense of a failing system. They’re not going to mention the relocation of the bureaucracies, because a hundred million Americans or so will cheer — and that’s lethal to the hypercentralist fantasy of the whole country managed by policy mandates handed down from Washington DC. It’s not that the media are incompetent, it’s that they’re not in the business of providing unbiased information.

    Anselmo, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some elite groups trying that. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone falls for it.

    George, thank you!

    Phil K, dear gods and little fishes. If Trump actually does this, I may actually have to support him. The metastatic uglification of the built environment is a much bigger issue than I suspect most people realize; an important reason our society is so angry and miserable is that we’re surrounded by architecture that basically screams abuse at us all day and night. If this goes through, it’ll be a huge step back toward architectural sanity.

    Sara, fascinating. Many thanks for this. The one thing I wonder, though, is whether your friends have realized that these “cross class coalitions” will have to take the views and needs of the working class into account — not just people from the upper middle class telling the working class what their interests ought to be. We’ve seen way too much of that over the last few decades.

    Leon, thank you for this. Yes, exactly — and we’ll be talking about a particularly unhelpful set of binaries two weeks from now.

    Mark, my guess is that the Democratic Party establishment will do everything in their power, no matter how sleazy or abusive, to keep Sanders from getting the nomination. Still, we’ll see. As for post-Trump politics, I expect Trump’s second term to be enlivened by a great deal of scrambling as politicians on both sides of the aisle try to appeal to his base and build coalitions that will put them into the White House. It should be entertaining.

    Pygmycory, I assume that the MSG manufacturers are funding “news” stories pushing that claim in all their markets. As for the use of “racist” as an all purpose instrument of hate speech, exactly — the sad thing is that as the blowback builds, it’s going to make life hard for people dealing with actual racial injustice.

    Stephen, as far as I can tell the risk of a domestic insurgency in the US has gone whistling down the wind at this point. So long as working class Americans have plenty of full time jobs at decent pay, they’re not going to be a problem for anybody, and now that the Dems’ last significant chance to remove him from office has not only flopped, but made them look bad in the eyes of independents — well, again, it’s all over but the shouting. I’ve also seen the collapse of racial polarization in the working class, for what it’s worth. As for the east coast, it depends very much where you’re considering going; it’s extremely diverse over here. As for our timeline, a lot depends on the events of the next few years; if Trump wins reelection by a landslide, a possibility that’s looking rather more likely these days, we could be moving into a post-ideological politics fairly soon, with a lowering of collective tensions and a window of relative improvement in a lot of measures of well-being.

    Roberta, my take is that neither party is actually willing to do anything about the environment; the Democrats give it lip service and then keep on polluting, the Republicans simply dispense with the lip service. (It’s worth noting that US carbon emissions rose steadily through the eight years Obama was in the White House.) Unfortunately, by weeping crocodile tears about the environment but refusing to change their own lifestyles in the slightest, the Left has tarred the entire environmental movement with the brush of hypocrisy, and it’s going to be a while before an effective conservation movement will be able to get started again.

    Kfish, you’re most welcome.

    Andy, sorry to hear you also have that kind of idiot over there. We’ve got ’em here, too, though the excuse is different, of course. I’d like to see them barred from driving on the roads — if they really don’t want to pay for any community goods, they shouldn’t be permitted to use those goods.

    Morfa, no argument there. I don’t do chain restaurants for that reason among others.

    Ben, everybody I know benefited hugely from Trump’s tax breaks — I certainly did, to the tune of some thousands. People I know all over the flyover states are talking about all the new jobs, and the numbers support that claim — wages in the bottom of the working class, the realm of unskilled and semiskilled labor, are climbing steadily. You’ve probably seen that African-American unemployment is at record lows. For a great many US voters, that’s quite sufficiently populist enough. As for Sanders, I think you got your answer on Monday: the DNC is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Sanders from getting the nomination. It’ll be interesting to see how that unfolds over the next few months.

    Lilith, one of the great virtues of representative democracy is that one ruling elite can replace another without blood in the streets. I have high hopes.

    Arkansas, of course! It’s normal for a society to swing from one bad extreme to another just as bad, and no doubt we’ll get some of that. In the meantime, though, some abuses may be righted, and millions of people who just want the chance to put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay are much more likely to get the chance to do so.

    Nachtgurke, thanks for this. Yeah, MSG is like television — it numbs you to the real world.

    Michael, it really does seem to be a personal thing. You’re on one end of the spectrum, clearly. I can taste it, but don’t like the queasiness. I know people who get very sick when they eat some.

    A.J., at least they’re thinking in historical terms.

  58. Violet, exactly. The attempt to enforce a monoculture of opinion is one of the most destructive habits of the recent past, and I’ll have some suggestions for undercutting it as we proceed.

    Wesley, I have no idea what Trump believes or doesn’t believe, and no, I didn’t watch the speech, since the point of such speeches is to rehash the conventional wisdom as loudly as possible. The policy changes being made by the Trump administration, politics being what it is, vary from the substantive to the purely decorative; that said, several substantive changes — the end of unrestricted free trade; pressure on the Mexican government and changes in US policy to decrease the flow of illegal immigration; and the dismantling of large portions of the regulatory state — have had significant economic benefits at the lower levels of the working classes; you might want to look up unemployment rates and wage growth for unskilled and semiskilled labor in the US. I see Trump as a pragmatist; he got into office in the teeth of the united opposition of the political class by promising a better deal to those shut out by the “jobless recoveries” of recent decades, ahd he seems to be following through. As for the waii, I think you’ve been reading too much Democratic propaganda…

    Your Kittenship, I was a kid when we put men on the moon, but as I recall, there was some pretty fair absurdity in US politics then, too!

    Patricia, my working guess is that too many politicians want a chance at power for any kind of dictator-for-life arrangement to be workable. Still, we’ll see.

    Gigoachef, thanks for this! I’ll have to see if I can find that; my reading knowledge of French ought to be up to it.

  59. Hi JMG,

    I was a kid too (10). But having consulted elderly neighbors, they confirm that, while politics was nutty, it was still more mature than what we have now.

    Around here, everyone but young SJWs has dispensed with corporate news as laughably inept propaganda, and gets news from aggregators, just as you mentioned.

    (Spellcheck wanted to change “dispensed with corporate news” to “dispensed with Cutekitten.” It’s cruising for a bruising!)

  60. I don’t know quite how this fits regarding your post Mr. Greer, being an extremely local affair … but ..

    Back in early Dec., I was emptying some organic gold into one of our compost bins, when, whilst absently gazing through the wire fencing that separates our property from the vacant lot next door, I realized that a young deer buck had recently expired not but 15 ft. from the fenceline. After pondering what to do over the weekend, I decided to call the city in which we reside, to see about removeal of said antlered Bambi .. which was already in a .. uh .. ‘heightened’ state of decomposition. Long story abbriviated : got the runaround from 1) the city .. who will Not remove Anything, even DEAD ! .. from a private lot. 2) The reps from the state DFG .. again because Private Lot !! 3) Given, by city asst. manager, the name, address, city .. of the prop. owner of said lot next door, home of the stinking dead deer .. conveniently without a contact phone # .. this was after I physically complained to the asst. city manager, half-threatening to drag the dead deer into the cityhall lobby, personally, to show my pique at all the Peter-Principle Calvin Balling being shoved my way !!!! Day later, city’s finest (police) shows up, looks at dead deer, says .. “Yep, I contacted the lot owner .. bla bla bla. What happen ?? Crickets ..

    Sooooo, couple of days later, a city water-works crew is trenching service lines on our street, in front of our property. As it was, I struck up a conversation with the crew leader, who, sympathetic to my ever-putrifying deer issue, would have .. after his crew’s trenchwork was completed, said deer .. now just a skin with – well .. let’s just say it was more liquifaction than putrifation .. removed, to be deposited to whatever dead animal boneyard the city uses for disposal.
    I was soooo releaved when they plopped that thing into their service truck .. to sights unseen, the I didn’t hesitate to give that crew a full 12 pack of newly canned medar jelly, courtesy of one happy property owner ! Christmas Really did come .. for me !

    I hope none went to the ‘upper management’ …. who I had emphasized towards .. that, if it had been .. the Mayor’s, Members of the City Council, the Chief of Police’s, or even, praytell .. the City Manager’s problem … said stinking, putrifiying, liquifiying, maggoty, bloated, vomit inducing dead deer .. would have beed removed PRONTO !!!


  61. @ Phil Knight and JMG:

    I was heartened to see that Trump wants to restore sanity to government architecture. Hopefully others will follow. As Jim Kunstler, Christopher Alexander and others have pointed out, Brutalism and other forms of modernist and post-modernist architecture have done a great deal of damage, psychologically and otherwise. When you have schoolchildren attending class in schools that look like medium security prisons, what does that say to them as they are growing up? Given the environment we are raising our children in, is it any wonder we have such high crimes rates and other forms of social dysfunction?

    One of the things I cheered about during the State of the Union speech was when Trump stated the US government would be joining the “One Trillion Trees Initiative”, a massive tree planting and reforestation campaign in the US and around the world. Not surprisingly, the MSM poo-pooed his plan, but it would do far more to restore the environment and counteract carbon emissions than all the virtue signaling and eco-tokenism we see coming from “privileged progressives” these days.

  62. The Trump architectural decision, if it is real and can be enforced is incredible. The establishment will of course call it racist – even though glass and steel monstrosities are far whiter in origin than classical architecture. They will pretend that progressive architecture is a multicultural melange, when in reality it is just the same unsustainable and anti-human templates occasionally wearing the skin of some other culture.

    Interestingly, the EU has recently created a regulation which prevents EU funds being used for the restoration of buildings in anything but “contemporary” style – which means glass and steel with a LEED certification because the shrubbery is drought-resistant and the air conditioner is pretty efficient.

  63. Hi JMG, I’m looking forward to your next post(s) on where you think America is headed. I’ve been wrong about a lot of predictions I’ve made (including thinking the Niners would win the Super Bowl on Sunday), and the last 13-14 years has been tough. But personally I’m still thinking a rapid decline once the effects of peak oil get into high gear, since the Alaskan/North Sea and Tight Oil booms have warped the timelines.

    The future has many potential paths, and I lean towards the ones enhanced by the quick drawdown of cheap energy and failing infrastructure, over the paths more likely affected by the decline of our empire and its political structures. But I’ve got a big bottle of MSG in the kitchen cabinet to help make that inevitable crow feast more palatable, just in case I’m wrong….again…

  64. Glad to have you back, JMG! As for your cliff-hanger ending, I can hardly wait for your post about the next America. Personally, I’m hoping for a post about a zombie apocalypse… no, wait – that’s a more apt description of the present America in which hordes of lumbering, drooling, cadaverous members of the parasitic managerial class try to “eat the brains” of the average folks via their lie-through-the-teeth self-serving expert advice and manipulative demonic advertising. So, hopefully the next America will be post-apocalyptic!

    More seriously, your description of Lind’s article is chilling. Especially his claim that populist movements have no policy goals. My jaw dropped when I read this. It immediately reminded me of the crack-pot theories concocted by the elite anthropologists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries about the religions of “primitive peoples” (totemism, fetishism, etc.) that such peoples are infantile morons who are unable to understand cause-and-effect (I’d like to know how long a hunter-gatherer who lacks a good understanding of cause-and-effect would survive – but I digress). No guessing who I believe the real morons are – either then or now. Be it the “primitive peoples” of the old-school anthropologists, the “natives” of the colonial functionaries or the “deplorables” of the managerial/intellectual class, the objects of their disdain appear to be sub-human. This cannot end well for the managerial class… but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it: they’ve got it coming!

  65. Welcome back from vacation, JMG!

    @ Nastarana

    MSG (or close approximations of it) are also often listed as: “vegetable broth” “hydrolyzed something” “yeast extract” and about half a dozen other weaselly terms. They are sneaky! One learns to avoid anything one couldn’t replicate in one’s own kitchen (if they’re not listing the individual “spices” I’m not eating it!).


    I like your vision of the future. I too often read the news, draw imaginary lines out into time and space, and shudder at where they seem to be going. It’s nice to come here and see our generous host and you, tracing those lines somewhere better. Gives me some hope.

  66. @JMG regarding coronavirus brought up upthread; I’ve put my tinfoil hat on in front of my politician colleagues already, so might as well do so again publicly 😅. The response was silence much as though I’d loudly and smellily broken wind, so I thought I might be somewhere near the ballpark…

    The point is not that it’s actually a particularly bad virus. The point is that China economy is close to collapse – a commenter at Gail’s blog has been sharing articles documenting their month over month declines in case sales – the economic canary – for something like 14 months. Double digits last quarter. Thus, they, and the world economists generally, need something to blame for an “unforeseeable” “temporary” plummet in goods and oil demand – but that will get back to BAU real soon, folks! Something that notably causes all the closes in borders and reduction in at-a-loss manufacturing, shipping, and tertiary economic activity that helps realign collapsing trade – dependant economies to a more self sufficient state without looking “nationalist”. They would have preferred not to go this route of course – I don’t think it was a plant like so many conspiracy theories. But once the virus cropped up, they knew they couldn’t conceal it, trying that wth SARS had tremendous political fallout at home and abroad, and they’ve already got Hong Kong and Uighur internment attention. So they’re trying to look to everyone like they’re pulling out all the stops to protect people this time to stave off the mainland riots (also something that is a risk if people think the government can’t deliver increasing wealth anymore – the only thing that makes people accept the communist state) or further international scrutiny on their economic or government strength.

  67. @ JMG and the rest of the Commentariat:

    The Iowa Democratic caucus raised a red flag for a lot of people, particularly left wing Democrats. I remember my Democrat friends who are Bernie Sanders supporters were excited because the earliest projections showed him winning by a comfortable margin, with at least 30 percent of the vote. Then this supposed app meltdown occurred and all of a sudden we were told that the official count would be delayed by at least a day.

    Almost immediately after the alleged technical problems were announced, Pete Buttigieg started claiming victory even though the results weren’t actually out and, lo and behold, guess what? When the new results came out, Buttigieg was now ahead by a narrow margin. So what did he know the rest of us didn’t? But there’s more. It’s been pointed out that the company that developed the app, the aptly named Shadow, Inc,, was run by former Hillary Clinton staffers who worked on her 2016 campaign. That alone should have been a huge warning sign for everyone. And as Moon of Alabama and others have noted, there were huge conflicts of interest involving Buttigieg and the people running Shadow. I remember looking at Buttigieg’s Twitter feed the night of the caucus and was struck by how much pushback he got from angry Democrats who accused him of cheating, being a CIA asset and so on.

    It makes me wonder if the senile elites in the Democratic establishment panicked when they realized how well Sanders was doing and how poorly Biden was doing and created a staged incident to cheat Sanders out of his victory while setting up Buttigieg to be the fall guy when the inevitable backlash hits. Buttigieg may have “won”, but his reputation has been severely tarnished and many Democrats view him with a great deal of suspicion. Many liberals already viewed him with suspicion, in part because of his background as a corporate lobbyist who was implicated in a major Canadian price fixing scandal, but this definitely adds fuel to the fire.

  68. Per JMG: “Dana1, nothing terrifies most people more than being expected to think for themselves. That being the case, I’d be willing to settle for less of a monoculture of ideas.”
    This is the theme of the famous chapter from Dostoyevski’s last novel, “The Brothers Karamazov,” titled “The Grand Inquisitor.” Jesus returns at the time of the Inquisition and is imprisoned and sternly lectured before being quietly released to proceed on his way.

  69. Often while reading this weeks’ essay I kept finding tidbits indicating opportunities for individualism, or tamanous to continue in it’s development. That’s super exciting realizing that as one dream is ending, the seeds of another dream are being given the opportunity for growth. Speaking of which, while you were busy with your writing projects, I started getting busy with the Celtic Golden Dawn.. again. I started where I left off, meditating on the seed and came to the realization that as a seed begins sprouting, the changes are at first very subtle and one is only aware what is going to happen if you’ve been trained to look for them. The historical parallels you’ve so often provided have helped make it easier to see the comings and goings of one phase in American development will give way to another. While many realize a death is happening, fewer realize this has happened before and thus run shouting about the end of the world. It’s a sad irony, that the managerial elite have disconnected so much with the world around them that they’ve managed to ignore one of the most constant themes in live, that death is inevitable. With the death of this dream, many keep clinging on to what used to be, just as with the example of Professor Lind. At my job, I’ve been watching with amusement as management is becoming aware that something different needs to be done, but as usual, management wants to manage that change according to their rules. America began with the seeds which this land is so fertile in growing, a fierce independence and love for freedom. The societies here will have to answer to the gods and spirits within the land. And that’s a hard pill for management to swallow.

  70. Its just occurred to be that the ‘What have the romans ever done for us?’ bit in Monty Pythons, ‘Life of Brian’, is a subtle form of managerial class propaganda… or do you have a different take on that?

  71. I looked at the nuttier leftist sites, re the impeachment, and they seem oddly subdued. Mainly they’re reassuring themselves that the NEXT impeachment will surely work, and that “Nancy” [Pelosi] isn’t done yet.” I don’t get the impression that they’re working themselves up to violence, so that’s wonderful.

    I regret to air my view that Nancy is indeed done. She appears to be senile. Trump appears to be in the early stages, I’m sorry to say. I know they’re both rich so their relatives won’t end up changing their diapers, some poor immigrant will end up doing that, but senility is rough on the family emotionally as well as practically.

  72. Welcome back. I am too fatigued by recent events to wade into the commentary about the legitimacy of the managerial class, but I absolutely must comment on the MSG issue. My wife and I also have immediate and noticeable effects when we unwittingly eat MSG — dizziness, hot spells and sleeplessness among them. We have noticed MSG…er, “natural flavors”… creeping into many, if not most, restaurant fare we eat these days, Asian or otherwise. In fact, I’ve started to avoid fish and chips at many of my local pubs because the batter seems to contain MSG…er, spices… that trigger a reaction. Fish and chips being squarely part of my English-Scots heritage, I invite anyone to explain to me how that is racist. I read that article, too, and it initiated a very Scots-inspired rant on my part, unprintable here.

  73. Here is a book by an academic advocating for less accountability to the voters. When I saw this last week i laughed, knowing i would be posting it here. I linked this particular page because I found the comments section so interesting. Probably more interesting than both the book and the article. “!0% Less Democracy”

    As an aside, I bought a $70 dollar raspberry pi kit to try out a very cheap computer. It is about the size of a deck of cards and likely has more power than early net surfing computers. It runs on a custom (and free) version of Linux. I think it is powerful enough to do all sorts of word processing, internet surfing, emailing, and spreadsheeting. Kit does not include a mouse or keyboard, and requires bout a 32 GB microSD card and some means of downloading the OS onto the card. I will risk being scolded for being off topic and report how well it works after a while, since folks here seem to be interested in cheap alternatives to Windows boxes.

  74. Archdruid,

    Speaking of the opinions of experts…

    I do both static and dynamic stretching during different parts of my workout. Tuned to my body…

    On a secondary note. The debacle in Iowa just made me realize something. Mayor Pete may actually be the real establishment candidate. Warren and Biden are so tainted at this point that even the Democratic leadership can’t miss the insanity of allowing them to be the candidate. However Pete is nearly a clean slate, and given what happened in Iowa I kinda wonder if he struck a back room accord with the party leadership.




  75. I am always happy to see CNN screw up that badly. Its burns up the social power they had, makes them look stupid and reduces the effect of the word racist , as our host might put it a grossly overused thought stopper

    Phil Knight. The architecture executive order is shocking to me in a very good way. I didn’t think anyone outside of the Wrath of Gnon blog even Trump had the the advanced understanding of the need to do this.

    Now Lind is a generally well meaning guy for a swamper but I think falls easily into to the trap of mistaking the “normal” rebellion against the system with see with the populists with the more itchy trigger fingers crowd, the former of course has ideas and the later is much less well endowed with them. Product of being at the top I guess anyone ignoring or disobeying them gets put into the category of rebel scum regardless of intent or method.

  76. JMG: This and other work you have given us reminds me of one of the cycles you once talked about. It concerns the way in which a culture concludes what is true. I don’t remember the name of the phase we are leaving, it could, perhaps, be called a scientific world view. We are entering the anecdotal time.
    Do you recall the blog entry I am trying to recall?

  77. Your Kittenship, hmm. I’ll have to go take a look at some old newspapers.

    Polecat, “Liquid Deer” sounds like the name of an avant-garde musical group.

    Jacurutu, exactly. The insistence on hideously ugly architecture isn’t accidental, and it isn’t apolitical either; you put people in that kind of setting when you want to force them to stop paying attention to their own experiences and feelings, and function entirely on a cerebral level — which means, among other things, believing what they’re told.

    Justin, of course the EU has imposed that rule. See my comment to Jacurutu immediately above.

    Drhooves, I think you’re going to be disappointed again. It’s not the Short Descent, remember…

    Aidan, it’s impossible to predict this far out. More on this as we proceed.

    Ron, that’s another first-rate example.

    Sara, fascinating. That makes a fair amount of sense. The Chinese economy was very clearly being propped up by smoke and mirrors, plus an absurd trade imbalance with the US; once tariffs stopped that latter, the PRC was guaranteed to land in trouble. The question is what they’ll do once the Wuhan virus has finished becoming an ordinary part of our respiratory flora…

    Graeme, thank you for this!

    Jacurutu, I also note that the final poll before the election was abruptly deep-sixed, and the Buttigeig campaign was involved in getting it deep-sixed. Very, very interesting…

    Phutatorius, Dostoevskii knew what he was talking about!

    Prizm, good. You’re paying attention.

    BB, perhaps so — or it may have just been the Pythoneers goofing off.

    Your Kittenship, I suspect a lot of people will breathe a deep sigh of relief when my generation finally buggers off to nursing homes or something and stops trying to cling to positions of power they’ve clearly shown they’re not competent enough to hold.

    Frictionshift, thanks for the data point.

    BCV, at least they’re finally being open about demanding less democracy!

    Varun, I suspect that the DNC has turned to Buttigeig in desperation, since Biden is crashing and burning so badly. They can’t stand Sanders and their big donors can’t stand Warren; Buttigeig is well suited to fill Obama’s shoes — that is, a bland, smiling figure with no particular agenda, who can go through the motions of leadership the way a mime pretends to be trapped inside a phone booth.

    Simon, three for three!

    Michael, are you thinking of the posts where I laid out a tripartite scheme with an Age of Faith, an Age of Reason, and an Age of Memory?

  78. It’s time to announce the 3rd Annual Ecosophia Midsummer Potluck, on June 20th, 2020 at my house. Sign up here. The sun is well on its way back north.

  79. John, you might find this article informative

    It discusses the way that the management consultancy McKinsey & Company, destroyed the up from the floor pathway that managers in companies in the 50s and 60s had, and made companies care about their workers, for the top down MBA path of hiring elite students who worked as management consultants, and prioritized the idea that those same people deserved million dollar salaries at the expense of running the middle class worker into poverty, relevant to your point going forward.

  80. @ Varun,

    Your thesis about Buttigieg being the new establishment candidate now that it has dawned on the DNC just how toxic Biden and Warren are makes a huge amount of sense.

    The problem for the DNC is that even though he seems relatively clean, there’s already lots of stuff that Trump can use against him, from the Canadian price fixing scandal he has been implicated in to the dodgy stuff that went on in Iowa. No doubt more will come out. Sanders supporters aren’t going to go along quietly if they believe he got cheated out of the nomination again. I’ve talked to a number of Sanders supporters and that’s what I’m hearing from them. Several of them have told me their faith in democracy and the Democratic Party has been seriously shaken by the events in Iowa. According to a recent poll, a third of Sanders supporters told pollsters that if Sanders isn’t the nominee, they would sit out the election or vote for a third party candidate. I think the DNC is making a huge mistake by trying to cheat Sanders out of the nomination yet again. It could very well tear the Democratic Party apart or even destroy it altogether.

  81. Good to have you back JMG!

    Speaking of food, I am sitting in Kolkata where the inexpensive food is fresh produce and meat from the farmers market and the expensive stuff is the processed food at the Indian version of the supermarket. How fresh is the meat at the farmer’s market? The goat meat on sale today was the goat that was running around the market the day before. The sausage is minced and hand packed while you watch. And the yogurt can’t be beat..

    The supermarket on the other hand deals almost exclusively with packaged foods and imported produce (like fuji apples). The fish and prawns are straight out of the water. All more expensive than the stuff at the farmer’s market. This is the complete opposite of the good ol’ USA.

    The down side from my perspective is that the fresh produce is local, so I am not familiar with most of it. So it goes.

    One more thing, when is the Weird of Hali RPG coming out? I am running a game (in GURPS) influenced by your novel series; as in “huh, the deep ones are interested in trade not fighting. Who knew?” I am nonetheless interested in how your world gets represented in a rules system.

  82. Phutatorius,

    “One thing that bothers me about Trump’s blue collar voters is that they, like Trump himself, get their information from television rather than from reading. ”

    But what I have noticed is that the liberal, white collar faction are so in lock step in their opinions that they are obviously being also spoon fed what to think and how to react. What is more, their emotions are somehow being played in such a way that they have become irrational and reactionary, quite a bit more so than the blue collars, who at least can remain somewhat calm and discuss things.

    So what difference does it make if the reading public reads nonsense and propaganda from the NYT, The WAPO, and listens to NPR? And facebook shares?

  83. “Arkansas, of course! It’s normal for a society to swing from one bad extreme to another just as bad, and no doubt we’ll get some of that. In the meantime, though, some abuses may be righted, and millions of people who just want the chance to put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay are much more likely to get the chance to do so.”

    Oh, Amen to that. I think it’s a good thing, on balance, even if I suffer economically, because my children and grandchildren will suffer much less, as a result. We were on the verge of becoming an actual nation of third world zombies, addicted to opioids and government assistance, presided over by a Mount Olympus of officious world-improvers who had almost the perks of aristocrats and none of the duties or civic conscience that even greedy robber barons from the 19th century had the decency to muster up. They were running a plantation, hence all the desire to be morally better in the one department the old plantation owners were abject sinners. But, in all reality, the result was tallying up to look more and more the same, and who can even imagine how ugly it might all get? Trump may be getting senile, may be corrupt and greedy, and may be ridiculous in believing his own hype, but he has one outstanding virtue, for which I call him a leprechaun: he still has vestiges of the human spirit in him, and he apparently trusts those vestiges enough to chart his own course. I just don’t see much of that in the manager class, and I’ve interacted some with them in the hospitals. They are incurable yes-people, who cannot think outside of boxes, and are completely insulated within their own bubbles of reality, to the point that trying to explain the realities of how human labor flows, the law of diminishing returns, or patient safety might be important or more important than the stockholders or the PMR reports gets the same look as I see on my six year old’s face when I tell him no he can’t have any more candy. They hear you, but it doesn’t compute. They are actually brain dead, so far as reality is concerned. To them, it can all be fixed with decrees, or juggling, or fiat, calculations of political or financial expediency, etc., etc. And some of them are worse than this, and actually worship the system they depend upon. Great essay, by the way.

  84. Dear JMG and Commenters:

    I am grateful for this blog.

    A speculation: Perhaps the reason buildings have become so ugly and scary in the modern era is the (subconscious) motivation to drive masses of regular, working people indoors where they can be more easily programmed and controlled. There’s no more effective way to sever their relationship with the land.

    Boxy, Borg-ship architecture also seems like a natural product of the mental degradation and bitter sociopathy that plagues the senile elite class.

  85. @JMG said “I didn’t watch the speech, since the point of such speeches is to rehash the conventional wisdom as loudly as possible….”

    It seems like your pragmatic attitude toward Donald Trump is taking a bit of getting used to on the part of your commentariot, myself included. The internet usually deals in terms of love him or hate him, it would be very strange indeed if someone with your perspective on life but Mr. Trump in the ‘love him’ bin, but then again, if there’s another category for ‘I have no idea what he believes and he often talks like a jackass, but his policies significant economic benefits at the lower levels of the working classes,’ then I supposed that our current president fits right in it.

    @Aidan Barrett,

    I am afraid you are too optimistic about the Mormons. I wish I could say otherwise, but we don’t have the birth rates and retention rates we used to.

    There is no official fertility rate for Mormons; the Utah rate is the best proxy we have, and from nearly 3 children per family at the beginning of the century it has fallen to 2.03. Not good. The Mormon church took a hard line against contraceptives in the 1960s and 70s but they do not anymore, and two or three children per family is the norm.

    Retention is also poor. I know this by experience; I was born in the 1990s and about half of my cohort ended up with one or both feet out the door. Mormonism has failed to build a strong apologetic tradition on the lines of the Catholics where, it appears, you can have a scientific mindset and be fully aware of the uglier pars of your church’s history, and also of the facts of evolution and the historical inaccuracy of Genesis, while at the same time being a devout Catholic. We don’t get that with Mormons. The people are encouraged to think of their leaders as infallible and given platitudes like “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,” and then, for obvious reasons, youths of a more intellectual disposition leave the church in droves.

    At the bottom of it, we are not like the Amish. At least in America, Mormons are nearly all comfortable members of the middle class who share most of the basic assumptions and values of the rest of the middle class. There are constraints – i.e. no extramarital sex – and the sense of community is quite a bit stronger than among most Americans. But we are still part of the comfortable classes.

    This all makes me quite sad and I will do my best to keep the faith, as I understand it, alive as our nation slides through the next turn of Spengler’s wheel. The Book of Mormon has a lot of teachings about the temptations of riches and our obligation to live like we are all equals that I think we would take more seriously if we admitted that a middle class American is part of the global very rich. I do not want that perspective to be lost.

    But as a community, I expect the upcoming events to handle us harshly.

  86. Phil Knight,

    I don’t see how anyone who lives in Manhattan, which is filled with thousands of beautiful buildings, can fail to notice how utterly crappy most modern stuff is.

  87. There is a saying in the scientific/academic community “Publish or Perish”. Essentially publish what the folks with the money want to hear or you will be out on the street. When you have 10 teams going for 2 grants, the one with the most marketable output will be the one that gets the funding. This is why we always hear things like “X technology is only 5 years away!” because they can promise a billion dollars to whoever and get 5 more years of funding on a technology that will never work.

    I have spoken with many in the field and they have a sort of self ware disconnect with it all. They know they are doing wrong but the alternative to them is to be considered a failure to themselves and their peers. Some are doing some really good work but typically only get about a tenth of the funding they need to really take it anywhere.

  88. I’ve been wondering why so many liberals, leftists, progressives, etc. have been siding with the big corporations they used to oppose. Now it seems like they are attempting to use the corporations to push through items on their agenda, because they couldn’t get most of the common people to vote their way. Is that right? Or are the corporations using the left? And I have always thought of myself as liberal, though the past few years I’ve really been shaking my head at the craziness that’s been going on among that faction. Maybe I’m more of a centrist now, or simply an independent that looks at each line item and makes a decision, liberal or conservative, depending on the situation. I’m probably not someone the major parties want around. They want people who can be manipulated.

    Joy Marie

  89. This article about why the center cannot hold in the UK highlights the class divide that modern countries have developed.
    “The answer, I think, lies in the emerging structure of class relations in societies like England, which seems to be reproduced, in one form or another, just about everywhere the radical right is on the rise. The decline of factory jobs, and of traditional working-class occupations like mining and shipbuilding, decimated the working class as a political force. What happened is usually framed as a shift from industrial, manufacturing, and farming to “service” work, but this formulation is actually rather deceptive, since service is typically defined so broadly as to obscure what’s really going on. In fact, the percentage of the population engaged in serving biscuits, driving cabs, or trimming hair has changed little since Victorian times.
    The real story is the spectacular growth, on the one hand, of clerical, administrative, and supervisory work, and, on the other, of what might broadly be termed “care work”: medical, educational, maintenance, social care, and so forth. While productivity in the manufacturing sector has skyrocketed, productivity in this caring sector has actually decreased across the developed world (largely due to the weight of bureaucratization imposed by the burgeoning numbers of administrators). This decline has put the squeeze on wages: it’s hardly a coincidence that in developed economies across the world, the most dramatic strikes and labor struggles since the 2008 crash have involved teachers, nurses, junior doctors, university workers, nursing home workers, or cleaners.”

  90. Illegal border crossings have dropped by 94 percent at the Arizona border according to the Associated Press. Most of this is due to Trump enforcing a policy of sending illegal immigrants back to one of three nations they crossed en route to the US. Whereas the Obama administration gave asylum seekers a piece of paper with a court date 2-3 years from date of arrival and looked the other way as they quietly folded into the US while “waiting” for a court date, the Trump administration requires would be migrants to wait it out in Mexico or Guatemala.


  91. Polecat, over the Memorial Day weekend a rabid skunk was wandering around our street. My neighbor duly called the cops, who came and agreed, Yep, that’s a skunk and it’s rabid, everybody should keep away from it, thanks for reporting. Um—aren’t you going to put it down? Can’t. Our weapons are large caliber—if a round ricocheted someone could be hurt. We all wondered why police, who sometimes have to fire In parking lots and apartment hallways and such, would be issued such large calibers, but in the meantime, my dad left me a .22 target pistol, so I volunteered to put the skunk down with that, or let one of them use it. Nope. Can’t do either. My neighbor asked if they would send someone to trap it. Sorry. City won’t pay for animal trapping. You’d have to pay for it yourself, in a private transaction. At this point some of us wanted to pool our money, trap the skunk, and quietly release it into the next city council meeting, but then it staggered off into the twilight and the next morning a lady up the street found it dead in her yard.

    The point is that we and the cops were all rendered helpless by the (unDruidly word)ing PMC of idiots, just as you were.

    Jacurutu, I too love the idea of 1 trillion trees!

    Varun, I noticed the psychotic leftists still favor Warren, and for some reason hate Bernie as much as they hate Trump. They seem to see Warren as one of them, a member of the group Rich White Liberal Females Who Think They Ought To Run Everything. (Yes! The same class that makes NO provision for removing rabid animals in an area swarming with skunks and raccoons! THOSE geniuses!) I think the psychos are correct in their assessment of Warren and if I lived in a state where your vote for president counted , I’d vote for whoever was running against her. I couldn’t figure out why they hate Bernie so much, but they sure do. It’s very likely that Iowa mess was an attempt to rig the results to throw Bernie out of the picture.

    I get the impression we’re an old crowd here—does anyone else play CodyCross? It’s the only computer game I know of that accommodates geezers. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a trivia game. Questions are about on the same level of difficulty as Jeopardy. It’s free but of course you have to watch 3 (abbreviated ) ads per round.

  92. So glad you are back!
    Our managerial elite isn’t.
    I have been dealing with two government agencies (separate issues). The degree of incompetence and lack of responsiveness is ASTONISHING. First, neither agency should have been involved ( individual issues). Second, bureaucrats attempted to create workarounds
    to cover policy/procedural shortcomings. Third, my insertion of key words, such as identity theft, provoked rapid response. WASS.

  93. Another enthralling blog entry. The topic brings to mind a cartoon I once saw of the three witches in Macbeth dropping their ingredients into the brew and chanting, “Eye of newt, toe of frog, / Wool of bat, tongue of dog, / E250, monosodium glutomate…” etc.

  94. I just found out Chris Martenson’s wikipedia page has been deleted over his latest series of videos regarding the Corona Virus. He talks about many of the same things JMG talks about here on ecosophia and I would encourage people to go make sure Dr. Martenson’s body of work is not deleted from the internet.

    Think what you will about the Corona Virus, Chris’s analysis of it seems spot on…. JMG I hate to break it to you but I think you could be underestimating the Corona Virus, given what you said in an earlier comment. There is a strong possibility at this point the Corona Virus was genetically engineered, to include the worst of aids and the contagiousness of something airborne. (This video was done using beer as a metaphor or the corona virus because of censorship.)

  95. JMG,

    the shattering experience of petty tyrants remind me more of the shock the communists experienced before/after 1989 fall. There is great satirical song from previous Poland “po co babcię denerwować, niech się babcia cieszy” [why upset the granny, let granny be happy]. Thousands of bureaucrats painted and presented situation as far better than it was and the leadership was for a very long time unware of that disinformation from below. When the Solidarnosc and other countries took the old system apart, it come as a shock to grand many people sincerely convinced that they are creating worker paradise.


  96. Oh gosh how hilarious of CNN! That is downright precious!
    There is a hefty amount of skepticism in Japan toward official “truths” which they’ve witnessed from a recent enough historical perspective (WWII) that they have special terms for it (tatemae–everyone engages in it as a means of getting along) and cold hard reality (honne). They are still comfortable enough at this time not to revolt, but I think the realization that official proclamations can be way off from the truth allows them to take quiet measures to protect themselves.
    That only goes so far, however. On January 24, we had a standing room only crowd of people injured by radiofrequency radiation (who took great personal risks getting into Tokyo for that meeting), people concerned about injury under current and projected circumstances, and the press, facing off with four bureaucrats, who like good samurai, spent the whole time valiantly defending the indefensible by reiterating various forms of denial. We did manage to get a decent article in the Tokyo Shimbun the next day saying citizens were questioning the safety of RFR, especially 5G, and that the impartiality of ICNIRP, the international standards-setting body (self-appointed by the industry BTW) was in doubt. A major step forward here.
    Incidentally, and a bit off topic it came to our attention about 10 days ago that Wuhan had introduced commercial 5G comprehensively last October. I don’t know if other Chinese cities have done so yet. In most places where 5G has been introduced so far it has been limited, more hype than actual service. No one is willing to step forward and bring this possible connection to a black swan to the public’s attention yet. There is too little information available to draw any kind of conclusion at this time. But numerous places where 5G has been introduced have reported serious health or environmental issues arising from it.
    Today, my husband and I went to a large park in Shizuoka, a medium-sized city. It was eerily quiet. In about an hour there I saw a few small groups of birds with a handful of individuals of about 10 common urban species. A 200 meter stretch of castle moat without a single waterfowl. I am a biased observer, but everywhere I go in Japan these past six months I’ve seen stark declines, especially in creatures duck/crow/cat-sized. Every so often the media notice the decline in birds and insects and shrug it off with with a half-baked sort of scientific sounding explanation and then forget about it.

  97. One big question which the events of the last few years evoke is the question of what will happen when Donald Trump leaves office in five years. Will be there another non-neoliberal president or will the status quo return? And what will that mean for the possibility of an armed insurgency?

    On the other hand, it is interesting that the two most prominent examples of Trumpism came to power in the United States and Great Britain, two countries which tend to early adopters of trends in other European countries.

    An an aside, currently there is much hand-wringing in the press about the fact that the new Thuringian minister-president was elected with the help of votes from the AfD, although the minister-president is from the economically liberal FDP. This happened due to a difficult election outcome with no clear majorities.

  98. JMG
    Glad the work seems to have been as good as a rest! 😉

    Plenty of dissensus over here in Brexit Isles, even if this is more canned dissensus trying to harvest clicks on advertisement. I picked it up from Tim at CoS this morning:

    Quote: ” … it fell to the Guardian to invent the idea that concern with corona virus is racist – precisely the kind of story which will guarantee clicks among the Guardian’s readership demographic”

    Phil H
    PS With viruses, numbers count, and a certain amount of informed forward management might help. Not all of us get them, but viruses have ways of gate-crashing the party, and as we know, affairs “Gang aft a-gley”

  99. JMG
    You write: ” clumsy but functional methods of representative democracy”.

    Having practiced a bit of dissensus, last night Phil Knight and I, had a bit of fun after he picked up the story of ‘Trump and beautiful buildings’ (see up thread for Phil K and the link to the Trump story).

    Here was my reply to Phil K last night:
    “Phil I am not adherent to very much these days – probably [I] am philosophically exhausted. [private joke]
    Building for the future: if our parliamentary democratic efforts survive the ‘Greer transition’ long enough I suppose we might get back to something a bit more like this? This ambitious chap was going to build a University as well.


    best for now from ‘Brexit Isles’.😉
    Phil H
    If I may: we have a small Ecosophic offshoot over here, and we discuss matters often related to the JMG background. If anybody in or from these ‘Brexit Isles’ wants to join ina bit they are most welcome. We are not quite as moribund as this site would imply [the state of the site is entirely due to my very slow work-rate], and you can contact us here

  100. Welcome back to the scrum!

    I will admit to being a rather poor Leftist, and had not been following either the Impeachment proceedings beyond the bare minimum of “keeping track” nor did I watch the SOTU, having similar opinion of it’s relevance. And of course Impeachment was a foregone conclusion, the only relevant outcome is which party will be more damaged, as both were diminished by the enterprise.

    I was immediately suspicious of the Iowa caucuses, suspecting that note were passed and words were whispered when it became apparent that DNC anointed Preferred Candidate Joe Biden was having a Bad Night, and Sanders might bag first blood. But one is often cautioned to not attribute to malice when mere incompetence will suffice. But massive incompetence is not a particularly good look for the Dems either, certainly doses not inspire the sort of voter turnout they would need to reverse their fortunes. But clearly the knives are out at the DNC for Senators Sanders and Warren – who might bring a constructive policy or two to the table. But I have not lost faith that the Democratic party is still perfectly capable of shoving defeat down the throat of victory.

    And trumps bullying, narcissism, race-baiting, and general corruption not withstanding – he has still, in all due surrealism – managed to do more for his base, and by extension the wage class in general, than either major party has in recent memory. A vast swath of American’s predominantly wage class, betrayed by Republicans, and abandoned by Democrats.

    While employment numbers, given the manipulations of the official figures, are not dismal, there is something going under the radar. The majority of jobs created since 1980 have paid less than median. That means that overall, jobs are getting crappier. The recent uptick in wages IS absolutely a good thing, but the costs of life in America have been going up faster, and I fear recent good wage news is a temporary aberration.

    What IS interesting is that fairly prominent thinkers are beginning to note the ever mounting evidence of decay and decline of Empire. Chris Hedges posted a eloquent screed on the dying American empire. End of the dream indeed.

    “The United States is a country built on genocide and violence and racial exclusion. We are a deeply violent culture. When a people lie to themselves — which is what Americans have done collectively — then you don’t know who you are. And when you don’t know who you are, then you can’t respond rationally, and you can’t correct the problems.

    “That inability to face reality means that in a crisis you cannot respond rationally. And this crisis essentially creates a social environment where people do not look for healthy political leaders. They look for cult leaders, and that’s what Donald Trump is. Cult leaders always arise from decayed communities and societies where political and social and economic power has been stripped away. – Chris Hedges, Salon.

    As for me, I have very little expectation that our ruling oligarch class will do anything meaningful for me and mine, or for the planet for that matter. And it seems like decline looks like s**t goes down, five things get broken, and we have the resources, energy and political will to fix FOUR. Over time, and just look around, more stuff is broken than working. Our institutions, our infrastructure, our culture and our society, all in various stages and speeds of unraveling.

    As I wrote for Four Quarters in “Living in the Age of Limits,” – So we’re not overly concerning ourselves with activism; we understand that we as individuals and the governing structures we create, are largely incapable of choosing the end of growth. We are all of us equally enmeshed in the dynamics of the superorganism. We’re thinking instead about how to get through and getting by in a changing world. To negotiate decline gracefully by devoting time, effort, and thought to living much more simply.

    It’s a plan. And in some ways reassuring, knowing that we’re for the most part, on our own.

    We’re publishing an excerpted version of rather HEAVY paper by N. J Hagens, who looks at the global economy in terms of energy extraction and connectedness and his conclusions are not comfortable. ” We lack a cohesive map on how behavior, economy, and the environment interconnect. and Global human society is functioning as an energy dissipating superorganism.”

    Economics for the future – Beyond the superorganism – N.J.Hagens

  101. The 2019-nCov is not just a more severe flu, exactly because of the reaction (might be justified, who knows at this point) of the (Chinese) state. Several dozens of millions of residents are locked in their homes and all factories closed down. If they extend the curfew only for another week the ripple effect throughout the world will be epic. I know of several SME in Germany and Switzerland who already are preparing to diversify their sourcing or halt production. And they probably will be closed down a few more weeks. Infection numbers skyrocketed in the last days and the workers are very conscious about this illness. So the party is in a pickle: They either force the workers to risk infection and risk an uprising or they leave it at the current state and risk to tank the world economy.
    There are several countries which at this point rely on Chinese tourism. Canada, Thailand and other countries in South Asia will loose several percent of their GDP. Together with rising prices of the illconceived monopolized Chinese production it will hurt the workers there the most.
    Some snarky mcsnarkface mentioned that it will be the first time Chinese have free time to bind on their own. If one thinks about this more than as a joke, yes, this alone will have consequences. Thinking humans are the most dangerous thing in this world.
    The mishandling of the local Bavarian transmission of 2019-nCov will be the local test of the managerial class in Germany and there are many cases where the populace observes attentively. They went on TV and talked about there is no danger because they don’t show any symptoms. Like in a bad movie…
    I read about a connection which gets no mention in normal conversation. Just like after the Russian wildfires and ensuing crop failure the middle east exploded after wheat prices surged, African Swine Fever culled Asian pig numbers in half and prices soared. Maybe the switch to “creative” meat sources as a replacement is the very problem of that new strain. Who knows, everything’s connected.
    Furthermore, several outbreaks of animal flu, locust swarms and stuff I forgot which add to a hm, “interesting” 2020.

  102. Great post as usual JMG. In the vein of self-defeating childishness a-la Pelosi tearing up Trump’s speech, did you see the exchange on CNN with Don Lemon et al, where the commentators mocked Trump as ignoramuses voters using egregious southern accents? I mean, just hand the Trump campaign a perfect vignette showing “Here’s what they think of you….”

  103. John–

    I’d like to add my welcome (and thanks) for your return. It has been an eventful interlude, to be certain!

    I must admit to find myself rather caught off-guard by Biden’s apparent collapse. I’d always thought him to be the obvious establishment go-to, what with being Obama’s VP and all. I can only imagine the “red alert” sirens blaring right about now at the DNC as they scramble to cobble together some kind of response to these events. Pete makes a certain amount of sense, though–he’d be another cultural “first” (like HRC) in a way that Biden would not have.

    On the other hand, it looks like my primary vote on April 7th might actually count for something, which is comforting in a way.

    I hadn’t heard about Trump’s (rumored) architectural EO, but read up on the story a bit this morning. I have no idea whether or not he’ll do it, but it *would* be the kind of thing he’d do and *exactly* the kind of poke-in-the-eye to the cultural elite that his supporters love to see.

    I watched the final votes in the impeachment trial yesterday. Now, perhaps, we can all get on with our lives. And, as they’ve done for the past three and a half years, the Democrats have handed Trump many large sticks with which to beat them about the head. I know that I’ve mentioned Andrew Jackson as one analogous leader with respect to Trump. Another has come to mind recently: Napoleon. Comes in, executes a coup d’etat, takes over, engages his opponents with a constant and relentless energy, always on the offensive, always moving, striking from multiple directions in flanking maneuvers and pincer movements…and his opponents left wondering what the heck just happened.

    I think the members of the Republican old guard think that they’re going to get their party back once Trump leaves office. I think they’re wrong. Rather like post-Napoleonic Europe, certain genies are not going back into certain bottles…

    The revolt against the managerial classes is well underway, though the awareness of that fact only now seems to be seeping into their ranks. It will be interesting to see what their reaction is once they come to realize the precariousness of their position. Fascinating times, indeed.

  104. @ polecat –

    Your experience reminds me why I scraped together money to buy rural property. A deer carcass or pig carcass doesn’t last more than a few days near our farm. Between buzzards, coyotes, eagles, crows and assorted insects…well, roadkill is such a concentrated source of nutrients that it disappears in a very few days (3-4).

    Contrarily, a dog carcass can last until liquefaction occurs in the city due to the dearth of other animals and insects in urban environs.

    Being a near-anarchist, if I had been in your shoes, the likely event would have seen me hop the property line, dig a hole, shove the carcass in and slide the sod right over the top of the mess. Involving bureaucrats in things that most deem ‘messy’ results in a whirling dervish of expostulations, excuses, ‘not my job’s and other useless expenditures of energy.

    You did get a good outcome when you got to other ‘ground level’ people nearby. And they are not to forget the beer soon. The bride and I give cookies and such to our local trash guys when we have holidays, and beer when we leave things out for them they are not ‘supposed’ to accept. Consequently, we get waves and smiles as they work down the street, and if I am not there to drag the trsh cans out, they just get them from in front of my garage.

    Kindness and civility work so much better than written laws and government ever does.

  105. Polecat:
    Years ago when we lived for a while in northeast Pennsylvania, the county had a designated, paid, road kill and dead animal remover. Not a job I’d want, but the residents had made it clear that the position was necessary and, for once, the local bureaucrats agreed. The tipping point came when the road crew paved over a dead deer on the road without removing it. A photo made the front page of the local paper and it became impossible for the county leaders to ignore.


    Excellent article from Quillette – of course! – about the vacuousness of wokedom, written by an ad agency writer who has to create material (propaganda, she calls it) in the service of people and businesses she has named ‘wokepreneurs’.

  106. @ Sara Duncan –

    I agree with your outlook, as I have been to China several times and their ‘economic engine’ is based on sheer output more than anything else. It is routine to have reject rates of 10-30% in many Chinese manufacturing operations. Consequently, any slowing of demand is unthinkable – yet it is happening as world economies contract and people slowly realize they do not need a new car or TV every year.

    Along those same lines, todays Challenger jobs report announced today that job cuts here in the USA jumped 106% from December numbers – NOT inconsequential. When you combine that with egregious deficit spending in government, the momentum of the shale oil bankruptcies and associated defaults and other negative trends currently developing – well, the whole house of cards is trembling.

    As Trump has appointed many known swamp critters (Barr, Wray, Bolton, etc.), and he has been alleged to play 4-D chess, then if his bunch is that savvy the entire anti-Trump narrative including the next few months of other projected things – might it be termed “Operation PeachMint”? Perp walks would be the ultimate in Romanesque circuses…

    The hyping of the Coronavirus is typical media crap to hide some other issue. Watching the number of articles about coronavirus or other happenings that appear on Zerohedge is a great indicator of when something is being pushed or forced. Is there any reason to think that ‘Operation PeachMint’ was NOT a similar show to obfuscate other not-so-pleasant things?

    I laugh every time I hear the words “energy independence’ issue from some Republican lips:

    Our entire world is frothy in bubbles of every conceivable type, courtesy of our elite and managerial overlords…there’s a LOT to hide! Two great concepts to adhere to in this era of disinfo are “cui bono” and “watch your six”.

  107. @ BCV –

    You won’t be disappointed with your Raspberry Pi. If we did not re-purpose old laptops as controllers at the farm, it would be the same Raspberry Pi we would buy to run things. Have some fun!

  108. Several observations:

    Welcome back, all!

    I must be racist, since I have a bad reaction to MSG. Who knew?

    Right on time, yesterday NPR had an interview with a Very Important Person from DC decrying the moves of the Dept. of Agriculture and BLM. The thrust of the VIP’s argument was that the people working in the offices would no longer be right there in DC to advise Congress. Whether or not the advise would be informed by actual knowledge of the subject was not discussed.

    The Democratic Party ensured I will be winning my bet that Trump will be re-elected. The Iowa debacle sealed the deal. The meme that it must have been older people who are incompetent to deal with new technology is an insult to all of us who have been dealing with 40 years of New Better Software that costs more and works worse than the previous generation.

    Madame Speaker Pelosi would have been much better served by tearing up the extension to the Patriot Act added to the Continuing Budget resolution on December 24th, instead of voting those powers to the Worst President Ever™.

    I read a rant from a fellow architect decrying the return of “Mussolini Modern” to Federal buildings. He must be right, since he has “FAIA” (Fellow of the American Institute of Architects) after his name. Of course, since the soulless crap built at EUR (the “New Rome” built under the Fascism outside Rome at Mussolini’s direction) is in no way representative of classical architecture, his knowledge of history is somewhat suspect. Dropping my AIA membership 30 years ago seems like a prescient move.

    Finally, as announced in the tail end of the comments last post: the Third Annual Ecosophia Midsummer Potluck will be at my house on June 20, 2020. Sign up here.

  109. @ JMG and Jacarutu

    Further proof that here in ‘Merica, we have the best government money can buy!

  110. If I was going to try my hand at ruthless social engineering I’d go with a token economy. Systems where encouraged behaviour is rewarded with things other than money have been used to keep control in schools, prisons and mental hospitals. However the most famous examples are the casino comp system, frequent flier miles, and credit card loyalty programmes.

    Complex societal manipulation would require more careful thought about how rewards could be earned and what those rewards should be, but in principle the system is known to be not just highly effective, but compulsive. There are websites and YouTube channels of people obsessed with maximising the use of various programmes. Jean Scott, the ‘Queen of Comps’ wrote an article, which I unfortunately can’t find at the moment, called something like ‘The Price of Free’ or ‘How Free is Free?’ It detailed the extreme distortions of behaviour that can be caused by chasing rewards.

    All the social control with none of the risk of mobs, torches or pitchforks (although some loyalty schemes that devalued their points have come close). 🙂

  111. To Polecat, about the rotting deer dilemma, The hwy dept of the state of Missouri, MODoT, has chosen NOT to remove the carcasses of deer killed on the highway, preferring to let nature take it’s course, as the saying goes. The numbers of deer killed due to vehicular collisions in MO is astronomical. As long as the deer carcasses are not directly on the pavement or shoulder, they are left to rot. I have also noticed that MODoT is mowing less than they used to, and there seems to be more trash at the roadsides than formerly. Visible signs of the decline of revenues for the state, probably. The upside is that the sight of so many dead deer might inspire more travelers to pay attention while driving. To Andy Dwelly : I ran across a neat term for a kind of “lawful rebellion” that I really like. “Sitzkrieg”. Do as little as possible, with your time and money, to support the status quo.

  112. Hello again

    I have few questions very off topic

    I saw on subscribe star you did the eclipse chart of most relevant countries but avoided china which is pretty relevant . So why haven’t you made one ? considering with all that is happening which China is the very epicenter of it .

    Also coronavirus, reemergence of avian fly and pig ebola in china it seems like the gods itself want the chinese gone or the plague god Nurgle likes that place very much, while there are few outbreaks outside of china nothing like the rampage inside of it. What is your opinion on it?

    Thanks .

  113. Phutatorius “Trump’s blue collar voters get their information from television rather than from reading.”

    How would you know this? And isn’t the internet generally criticized for being “Alt-Right” and “Radicalizing” people? (both terms of which have no hard meaning) That would suggest the internet is their venue, and reading chat boards is their forum. Meanwhile, actual stats from Gallup say 69% of Democrats believe in the Mass media, i.e. Television, NBC, CNN, while only 15% of Republicans do. So again, the stats are the exact opposite. Those stats say 69% of Democrats get their info from major Television, and also believe it. Also, since media is near-universally-left, the GOP must listen to both sides, while the DNC has the option of listening to just one side. From this, the follow-conclusions are most probably also in error, as TV is a low-information-density compared to the internet, but also that Republicans are more doubting, and therefore more questioning (and also arguing) of information they hear.

    This is precisely true of your example, as the Right is most adamant about NOT believing the Bush line, and the further right you go, the less they believe it. They are also against the wars, which is why they voted both Obama and Trump. This is not to be right on the Internets (a series of tubes), but if you believe incorrect, opposite things, one must then infer incorrect motivations of others, and make conclusions and actions that are also not functional or counterproductive…as we’ve seen in losing legislation and elections. We need less of that right now and each side has a point, a strength and weakness.

    “A lack of trust in modern politics is the reason” This very attitude is the problem: it’s not their JOB to fix things. Push it away from the (inter)national back down to the town, stop meddling, and leave people alone to sort out their own business for themselves. It’s a lot cheaper. But they can’t, it will crack: the very idea of NOT telling people what to do is impossible for them. You say it can’t? The environment and economy will recover the second they stop the wealth-extraction pump from the country to the cities.

    Mayor Pete works for military (Naval) Intel. I’m sure that’ll work as well as when Wall St poured billions into Obama and he was blessed by Clapper and Brennan. Decades later, all those black neighborhoods STILL haven’t got their houses back, and Fargo is STILL licensed and committing crimes against the poor.

  114. A lot to digest, as usual. i think ‘Democracy’ is a fleeting thing and very unusual, ‘normally.’ It’s a kind of ‘luxury’ linked to specific periods and circumstances, social and mostly economic factors, that nuture it as a form of government, that don’t last very long, as in ancient Athens; and then we go back to… ‘business as usual’, which is authoritarian rule by an elite.

    I think Churchill was wrong about Democracy being the ‘best’ form of government. His own career illustrates this, paradoxically! He, if anything was part of the managerial elite. He was most popular and successful as a leader during the ‘not democratic’ WW2 period when the UK was ruled by Churchill virtually functioning as a wartime ‘dictator’ and their were no elections at all worth talking about! it’s somewhat ironic that Churchill’s success was only made possible by war on a gigantic scale and a wartime econonomy and social that suspended democracy for the duration.

    It think the ‘populism’ we are seeing emerge isn’t without danger and problems. It’s a symptom of the collapse of the old order, if not an entire model of civilisation. Democracy is, once agaiin, being replaced by another system that ‘fits’ the times and the economy… ‘better.’ That is, the return of… ‘monarchy.’

  115. JMG, I’ve spent most of my life in that managerial elite and I’ve come to the same conclusion about that managerial contempt. I believe you once made reference to the hate-speech you commonly hear coming from these quarters. So it’s not so much that the country-side hates downtown, it’s the other way around.
    You don’t need to look into dark corners of the internet to find hate groups. They’re right on TV. You just had to see Nancy’s antics during the SOTU address.  

  116. Hey JMG, good to have you back and see you’ve been productive as always. I hope you find a publisher for the King in Orange!

    Right in line with this essay’s topic, Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity has apparently had his Wikipedia page deleted and received an entry ban from the Chinese government (if I understood that right) within the same day, and for the same offense – namely, reporting about the coronavirus outbreak as a regular citizen.

    It’s probably news to no-one here that Wikipedia, despite its allegedly independent structure, is pretty darn biased towards elite-sanctioned perspectives, but seeing it toot the very same horn as the Peoples’ Party is something else 😀

    Speaking of Martenson, I get back to your appearances on his podcast every now and then, just to join in the fun you guys seemed to be having, agreeing on these topics that are so widely tabooed. I hope you guys can repeat that some day!

  117. Perhaps the era of managerial elite rule is not a failure… the .01% have ‘succeeded’ magnificently. I think that is the ‘class/layer’ that is rarely addressed here, and is ultimately the hand that calls the shots… even for the directions of the exerts. As when profit calls the shots, science, education, art, etc. become ghosts of their real purposes … and focusing on the next-lower level misses the ‘wizard behind the curtain’. (I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of The Two Masters… apparently forgotten by most ‘christians’.)*

  118. Tony,

    As the friendly neighbourhood biologist, you said, “Rather importantly, neurons all over your body use glutamate as an excitatory neurotransmitter to activate other neurons. The local concentration at the synapse is way higher than the concentration you get in your blood from MSG but I would not be at all surprised at it tilting the pinball machine so to speak, making it easier for one cell to activate another. Like how nicotine works on acetylcholine receptors throughout the body”

    Does this then imply MSG might be addictive? I know a lot of people who seem to be actively addicted to processed foods, and have been wondering about the mechanism behind it, but this seems like a plausible one to an interested observer. Does it seem possible to you as well?

  119. Hi JMG

    Welcome back. I am sitting in the HQ of Google in London drinking their cocktails and eating their food overlooking the London skyline. The religion of progress is very much alive here and they’ve got the views to prove it. The talk is of personalisation of ads based on people’s data. However Google gets it wrong a lot. I was treated to imams telling me not to get involved in terrorism at one point on You Tube based on I don’t know what.

    So much internet advertising misfires or even if it’s in the ballpark it still leads to nothing. No I won’t be subscribing to Gaia TV lol. They aim to have a data file on everyone so they can sell you shale you don’t need. Hmmm I’m not playing ball. A lot of people are over consumerism. I see their overpriced goods and laugh…

  120. In the interest of off-setting a huge binary here: I sincerely believe the overwhelming rush of built architecture toward Bleak, is- cost, cost cost. I believe -as many of you do- that the EU is sometimes bat stuff crazy, but cost might be the real reason they want EU funds to not be err, “wasted” on architectural detail, craftsmanship, worthy materials, good design.
    From a slightly different angle, the demise of cheap energy has put beautiful architecture beyond the reach of government. (But here in Texas I am pleased to report that, while much in education has been woefully shortchanged, the local public schools look pretty darn pleasant. Some weird dynamic here, I suppose.)
    Whether the Bauhaus et al was influenced by an awareness of on-coming fiscal decline, I haven’t the faintest.
    But I can easily see that a swarm of accountants said -all over the western world- “Make it cheaper. It has to be modern”.
    Ol’ Bab

  121. @Raymond and Leo, about the Coronavirus:

    My own belief is that it almost certainly won’t put a dent in the global economy. The people in the media who want you to panic about it are neglecting to mention any of the reasons why incipient crises like this usually (but not always) peter out.

    From what I’ve read, the virus is deadliest in the city of Wuhan itself (it killed about 5% of the early victims) while fatality rate is only about 0.3% in the rest of China, and so far not a single person who got infected outside of China has died. So basically, the virus is going what a virus usually does when it moves to a new host, that is, it’s responding to selective pressure to become less dangerous, since a pathogen with less severe symptoms tends to spread better.

    Then you’ve got the fact that it nearly always kills old people; median age for the victimes is 75 and about 90% of them are over 60. These are usually people who only have a few years left to live anyhow; Coronavirus is not going to up and decimate the young and the middle-aged the way the Spanish flu did.

    So at this point, the worst-case-scenario that I can see happening is that the virus sweeps the world, infects a third of the global population, and kills half a percent or so of the people who get it. In the US, that means some 550,000 dead, of which only 55,000 are under age 60. In an ordinary year, we get 3 million deaths, of which half a million are under age 60, so basically, it will be sad if someone in your family dies, but we are not looking at any sort of collapse scenario.

    It all seemed to me like a good enough example of the apocalyptic thinking that dominates the media that I made a post on my own blog a few days ago about why people should think about this more rationally and look at it through the lens of the actual history and science of viral outbreaks:

    On the other hand, I do find the idea that the Chinese government is exaggerating the situation in order to cover up some sort of economic downturn to be plausible.

  122. Re deer carcasses (strangely enough)…

    Not quite the same issue, however…interestingly enough, the topic of deer carcasses was the subject of a city council discussion here recently. We had a hunter who was processing his kills and had hung the deer (three of them, actually) from the tree in his front yard to facilitate this. Apparently with his work schedule, it was taking him longer than normal to complete that process, so the deer were up there for an extended period of time. (Not rotting, this is winter in Wisconsin, so they were well-refrigerated.) Nearby residents complained.

    But…the existing ordinance pertaining to animal carcasses specifically referred to those “not for human consumption” and therefore, under current code, the individual was not in violation. The city manager brought an ordinance amendment to council for consideration that would limit such activity to the rear yard only (and presumably out of sight).

    My initial thought was “of course” but then I realized that the argument being made was purely on aesthetics. And if I were to be consistent with my previous arguments in favor of front yard vegetable gardening (and the insistence that aesthetics alone were not sufficient to impede a property owner’s use of his/her property), then I needed to reconsider that stance. I ended up voted against.

    All ordinances and resolutions require a majority of the council, not of the members present: 5 votes in the case of our 9-member council. We had one member absent that night. The proposed ordinance change failed on a 4-4 vote.

    And so, in Two Rivers, WI, it remains perfectly legal to hang deer carcasses from a tree in your front yard for processing.

  123. @JMG, re:
    “Plato’s Republic, that fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings spouting “noble” lies and sending heavily armed Guardians to enforce their will“ — thanks for this. Wrote a scathing critique of that work for an essay in college, and was rewarded with one of my worst grades and an admonishment from the Prof. along the lines of “how dare I!” — was quite the blow to my morale at the time, as my argument seemed both self-evident and quite sound to me then.. as indeed still does now 😉

    In case you missed it:
    The gist of that being eerie parallels between the AfD now and the NSDAP then (nearly exactly 90 years ago) in terms of gaining a foothold in Thuringia.

  124. Peter, glad to hear it. I’ll be there, of course. 🙂

    David, many thanks for this! That makes sense of a great many data points.

    Chris, I wish we had markets like that here! During the farmers market season — May through October — at least you can get very fresh vegetables and fruit, but that’s about it. (BTW, take the time to learn the local produce. One of my favorite farmers market stalls is owned and operated by a Bangladeshi woman, who grows South Asian produce in Rhode Island (!), and once you figure out how to cook it, it’s really tasty.) As for the Weird of Hali RPG, it’s scheduled for release at the end of May, and I’ll post something as soon as it’s available for preorder.

    Arkansas, exactly. It’s not a choice between good and evil, no matter now frantically people on both sides of the divide want to frame it as such, but between a fossilized set of attitudes that can only fail and something more flexible that might get a few things right.

    Kimberly, both those seem relevant. One of the things I may put some time into, as my current round of research winds down, is the origins of the current passion for butt-ugly architecture. I suspect some very interesting things might turn up.

    Wesley, of course Trump is a jackass, but a jackass who carries the goods in the right direction is a very useful beast indeed. I find no value in the present habit of treating politicians with the kind of one-dimensional moral caricature that belongs on a Saturday morning kiddies’ cartoon — “She’s good, and therefore everything about her must be adorable! He’s baaaad, and therefore everything about him must be vile!” That’s no way to choose an elected official to exercise certain supervisory duties over the executive branch — which is what we’re talking about, of course.

    Michael, yep. Your words would make a good inscription on the tombstone of modern science.

    Joy Marie, it’s a complex situation. On the one hand, a lot of liberals seriously do believe in the goodness of the policies they support. On the other, they also know which side their bread is buttered on. So, as usual, you have a mix of idealism and grubby selfishness parading as moral purity — and, as usual, when the chips are down, it’s the grubby selfishness that takes the lead and the ideals go on the shelf.

    Mary, thanks for this! That strikes me as quite accurate — and it also helps explain why Trump’s rejection of free trade, in the interests of bringing back manufacturing jobs, and his hostility to bureaucratic regulation are both so popular among working people.

    Kimberly, thanks for this. No wonder wages for unskilled and semiskilled labor in the US are rising so steadily.

    Robert, you have my sympathy. Anyone who has to deal with government or corporate bureaucracies these days could probably one-up Kafka…

    Robert G., hah! I like that.

    Leo, so far the death rate outside of China has been very low. (I admit that we don’t know what the death rate actually is inside China, since the media’s so tightly controlled.) Until the death rate from cases outside China starts trending well above the levels that correspond to the bad end of a normal flu epidemic — and they’ve shown no signs of doing so — my working assumption is that the apocalypse lobby has gone into yet another meltdown and is busy manufacturing scare stories to get clicks, just as it did with the last dozen pandemics that weren’t.

    Changeling, thank you for this. That strikes me as a very good comparison.

    Patricia O, thanks for this. Do you happen to know whether 5G was introduced into any other Chinese cities at the same time?

    Booklover, once Trump wins reelection I think you’re going to see a lot of US politicians begin scrambling to position themselves as his logical heir, and attract the support of his base. Business as usual in the US was pronounced dead on the scene in the Senate yesterday.

    Phil H, I wonder if the folks at the Guardian and CNN realize that if they keep this up, sooner or later, when they start yelling about racism, people will just giggle? As for the Welsh building, notice that it’s still standing and perfectly usable almost 600 years after it was built — unlike modern Uglicist architecture, which is usually fit only to be torn down in 50 years or so…

    Samurai, a classic screed indeed, complete with the standard ritual moaning about history and a case of projection that would make C.G. Jung sit up and take notice. Thanks for this.

    Michael, oh, no question, as a political and economic phenomenon the Wuhan flu seems to be shaping up into a wowser. The same could have happened with any other easily transmissible virus with a 3% death rate.

  125. General data point on conservation-family corporations and individual owned corporations with land are very, very interested in conservation. One of the largest family owned potato farms in Idaho uses only manure from local dairies for fertilizer. It just works better, we were told. They practice crop rotation, etc. (It was a fun home school field trip.)

    These categories of landowners tend to be considered conservative, mainly because we don’t like the state telling us what we can’t and can do. I’m supposed to get a waiver to clear brush and trees within, I think it was, 75′ of the creek, said brush and trees being within 10′ of the house for about 25′. While the fire department recommends having a 200′ radius circle cleared around the house. Uh . . . why do I have to get permission from the government to follow fire department recommendations? It might negatively affect trout fishing to have the water unshaded, that’s why. Silly. There’s not that much privately owned land around waterways in the state, most of it’s federal land. Which, of course, is not affected by state regulations . . .

  126. Nachtgurke said: “They easily drink three to four times as much water as usual to quench their thirst.”

    Aaahhh…cui bono! It’s the water supply boards that are behind the proliferation of MSG in our food!
    Good to know.


    (Full disclosure: I have a similar reaction to MSG. Whether it comes with Asian food or not. My wife and I removed it from our family’s diet in 2006 with a sweeping overhaul of our larder that took out HFCS and trans-fats at the same time. The pantry was completely decimated…)

  127. I’d like to add to what Wesley said about his LDS faith.

    For the record I studied the LDS texts and strongly considered becoming a member but decided it was not for me so I’m not of that faith.

    However a large amount of my friends and D&D buddies are and I’ve seen more than a bit of fertility decline and delay.

    Some are still doing the Mormon 3+ thing but I know families, converts granted with 3 kids in their twenties and only one married and no grand children.

    As to why, some is the weakening of organized religion in general , only the more rigorous and isolated ones are doing very well and the rest are at best just holding on basically.

    The rest is I suspect the cost of housing in So Cal compared to wages. A starter house here and its a run down area is far more than anyone can really afford. People also can’t always up and move to chase jobs either.

    Future populists will have to deal with housing vs wages or the system will deal with it in much less pleasant ways either by heavy socialism, a jubilee or most likely a war or collapse that leads to a reset.

    A lot of this friction is why there is so much panic about Bernie. The hope is once he dies there won’t be a likable charismatic replacement and the Socialists will go away.

    This is far from the truth. Sanders is a moderate compared to what his Bernie Bros want , they are quite in the “send them to the camps” mindset having been caught by Project Veritas on tape saying just that.

    Behave socially or be socialized.

  128. Hi JMG

    Glad to read you again, I hope you are well.

    The question is: is possible to avoid the managerial class control in a hyper-complex industrial society?, is it possible ot avoid “color revolutions” or other revolts made by the frustrated intellectual/managerial elites to grab more share of power?

    About the Trump economy change, I have analized the statistics of 2109, specifically the new jobs by sector/industry (up to the last complete set of data in November-19), and the change in jobs in different sectors in 12 months was:

    Nov 2019
    Industry 12 month change % total
    Mining and logging -5.000 -0,24%
    Construction 146.000 7,15%
    Manufacturing 76.000 3,72%
    Wholesale trade 63.600 3,11%
    Retail trade -31.400 -1,54%
    Transportation and warehousing 73.300 3,59%
    Utilities -4.300 -0,21%
    Information 6.000 0,29%
    Financial activities 116.000 5,68%
    Professional and business services 417.000 20,42%
    Education and health services 679.000 33,25%
    Leisure and hospitality 420.000 20,57%
    Other services 86.000 4,21%
    Government 162.000 7,93%
    TOTAL 2.042.200 100%

    I have taken the raw data from:

    The structure of employment has not change too much from the presidencies of Obama or Bush Jr., the biggest chunk of jobs are in “Education and health services” (33,25%), “Leisure and hospitality”(20,57%, waiters, etc…), “Professional and business services” (a good 20,42%, mainly managerial class) and with the SP500 at full throttle “Financial activities” 5,68%. For example the “Government” (7,93%), grew more than “Construction” (7,15%) and double “Manufacturing” jobs (only 3,72%), much less than “Financial activities” (5,68%)

    I cannot speak about the geographical distribution, may be there are many more in the flyover states, but in any case the jobs seems to be mainly the services and government related business, and it seems with a concentration of new jobs in the extremes: the high salary/qualification (professional services, health care, public employes) and low wages/qualifications (leisure, etc…) and few middle wage/qualification jobs, normally associated with manufacturing, construction, mining, etc…that did not grow too much

    I have not analyzed the others two years of Trump (2017 or 2018), but we should expect even less change from Obama times, because they were closer.

    About the unemployment in USA, it puzzle a lot of people, including me, because the Labor Participation Force was, in Dec-19 as in June-1978, in 63,2%, and essentially flat from 2013, I cannot see a significant change in the Trump presidency compare to the second term of Obama:

    In the peak in 2000 was 67,3, but always much less than the same data in many developed countries as UK (79,4%), Sweden (72,3%), Netherlands (71,4%), France (71,3%), Norway (70,3%), etc….

    About the federal debt, I think Trump has made a good jump in it, adding around 3 trillions $ more, which is a lot (well that it is the usual way Empires finance themselves), and now it is at 23 trillions $ and its growth is not slowing down


  129. Wesley said: “and see nothing impractical about having a few hundred scientists living on Mars.”

    Why stop with the scientists? I can think of dozens of people right off the top of my head I’d love to see join them: Musk…Bezos…Zuckerberg…Pelosi…AOC…you know, useful people who could do their fellow Earthlings right.

  130. Since architecture is in the discussion right now, I’m going to ask this question. JMG, I am really enjoying your Sacred Geometry Divination system. If a person wanted to have magical practice along with this system, what might work? Some sort of Pythagorean system or something else? I’m reading your books on Druidry and the Golden Dawn systems and trying to work this out. I’d rather not just throw something together but rather work with some “pre-existing” forms for obvious. And can get more creative once I’ve established a practice with a strong foundation under. I’m female, so I don’t think the Freemasons will let me at it. Thank you!

    Y Ddraig Goch ddyry gychwyn.

  131. HI again

    I have found the geographical distribution of the decrease in unemployment (by state), I do not know how to interpret the results (from dec-18 to dec-19):

    State % Unemployment Decrease
    UTAH >3,1%
    WASH. 2 -3%
    IDAHO 2 -3%
    COLO. 2 -3%
    ARIZ. 2 -3%
    TEXAS 2 -3%
    ALA. 2 -3%
    FLA. 2 -3%
    NC. 2 -3%
    CALIF. 1,1 – 2%
    ORE. 1,1 – 2%
    NEV. 1,1 – 2%
    N.M. 1,1 – 2%
    NEB. 1,1 – 2%
    KAN. 1,1 – 2%
    ARK. 1,1 – 2%
    TENN. 1,1 – 2%
    GA. 1,1 – 2%
    SC. 1,1 – 2%
    VA. 1,1 – 2%
    DC. 1,1 – 2%
    DEL. 1,1 – 2%
    N.Y. 1,1 – 2%
    MASS. 1,1 – 2%
    MAINE 1,1 – 2%
    R.I. 1,1 – 2%
    MONT 0,1 – 1%
    N.D. 0,1 – 1%
    S.D. 0,1 – 1%
    MINN. 0,1 – 1%
    WIS. 0,1 – 1%
    MO. 0,1 – 1%
    ILL. 0,1 – 1%
    IND. 0,1 – 1%
    KY. 0,1 – 1%
    OHIO 0,1 – 1%
    MICH. 0,1 – 1%
    PA. 0,1 – 1%
    N.J. 0,1 – 1%
    CONN. 0,1 – 1%
    N.H. 0,1 – 1%
    LA. 0,1 – 1%
    MISS. 0,1 – 1%
    HAWAI 0,1 – 1%
    WYO. <0%
    IOWA <0%
    OKL. <0%
    W.VA. <0%
    VT. <0%
    ALASKA <0%

    It seems that the Rust Belt is not doing well but some parts in the middle west have improved a lot

    Here is the map where I took the data of the decrease in unemployment by state seasonally adjusted (last page):

    Here the map with the data at the end of 2016, just before Trump (also in the last page):


  132. @Lady Cutekitten

    I’ll see your rabid skunk and raise you a feral pig. We have (had?) in our rural neighborhood, a potbellied pig, of perhaps 150 pounds, wandering loose since at least October. Rumored to belong to someone on the next street over, but nobody’s claiming responsibility. She is normally a genial sort, and saunters by for head scratches when my housemate gets home from work. Recently, that changed, abruptly. Housemate got home. Pig approached, and instead of the usual give-me-scratches, she charged and tried to bite HM’s leg. I heard the yelling from the house, and ran out with a couple of brooms (she was trying to fight off the pig with her purse!). We fended her off until we could get back in the house, summoned animal control, and waited while she wandered about the yard. Dunno if she was rabid, but she defintiely wasn’t behaving normally. She’d left by the time animal control arrived, they looked at the tracks and said “yep, those are pig tracks” and offered zero advice on how to handle the situation.

    HM realized later that pig had nicked her hand in the fracas. We waited a few days hoping the sow could be trapped and tested, but other than a brief appearance at the gate the following morning (too quick to get AC out again, and we were advised that we were only legal to shoot the animal if it was on our property, or currently attacking someone), nobody’s seen her. So HM had to go get started on the rabies vaccine series. Now, her (supposedly good) insurance says that because she didn’t go to the ER immediately…. they’re not going to cover the shots. Which cost thousands of dollars. WTF do we have insurance FOR anyway? Do they think people go and get rabies vaccines for fun?

    As long as the managerial overthrow includes insurance companies who won’t cover rabies shots…. bring it on!

  133. Another entry in perhaps people are getting skeptical of the fox – shaped guard dog. I don’t know enough about insurance to know if this is good, bad, or otherwise – but BC changed the system to no fault to save millions on lawyer fees ICBC (the province-owned driver insurer for BC), thus raise direct payouts and types of eligible therapies for injured drivers, and lower premiums. The Trial Lawyers Association objects.

    The auditor general working on the file is notably the one who also exposed that our previous government knowingly allowed offshore crime syndicates to launder money using real estate and casinos, a large reason we have the second highest housing costs in the world and tremendous homeless and campervan problems. When the newly elected NDP created new offshore ownership and second home laws, there were tonnes of “news” stories supposed to garner sympathy about how someone couldn’t afford higher taxes, so would have to sell their vacation mansion, or the custom designed 3000 sqft beach bungalow they were leaving vacant and planning to retire to in ten years after finishing their high paying career travelling the world. They could easily move and live anywhere they wanted, we should be grateful they chose here!

  134. JMG, re. your comment to Booklover: If (I’m not yet assuming “when”) Trump gets re-elected, there is an obvious successor, one who he’s already grooming for the role. Her name is Ivanka. This is the way we might all–liberals and feminists included–get our first female President.

    I was just interviewing a man knowledgeable in Native ways, pointing out the prevalence of the trickster icon Coyote throughout the American West. Coyote is always by the Creator’s side, he said, waiting to gum up the works and turn our fondest hopes and dreams into “jungle stew” (the word we used in grade school for food we would glop together out of inedible leftovers). Coyote, he told me, is “God’s brother-in-law.” I can’t think of a better analogy for this era.

  135. Welcome back, JMG!

    To your point of colonizers being booted out of their lands, I know a story that takes it a bit farther.

    I knew some people who had lived in Indonesia as bureaucrats until Indonesia gained independence and booted them out. They returned to the Netherlands…where they found themselves just as unwelcomed.

    They ended up in Indianapolis, where they made a living of sorts.

  136. Josh-K, I read about it — and I understand it’s already been turned into a GOP ad. Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if at least some of the Dems have literally decided that they want to lose.

    David BTL, good heavens, did you think the Trumpophobes are going to give up just because they’ve lost again? Au contraire, I expect them to double down yet another time, and ratchet up the rhetoric even further. As for Biden, I think we’ve reached the point at which not even the rank and file Democrats are willing to tolerate another round of business as usual, which is of course what Biden offers.

    Peter, do you have a copy of Vitruvius’ Ten Books on Architecture handy? If the EO turns into the beginning of serious pushback against what I think we should probably call Uglicist architecture, knowing your way around the classical orders, human-scale proportions, and the like might make you highly employable!

    Oilman2, well, of course — as Spengler pointed out a long time ago, democracy inevitably ripens into plutocracy the moment the rich figure out how to buy votes, which rarely takes them long.

    David BTL, fascinating. Not surprising at all, but it’s a sign worth noting that Trump’s people are clearing out the career bureaucrats in the diplomatic corps as well.

    Yorkshire, it seems to me that you’ve left out one big example. What is currency but a token economy?

    Emily, I don’t do charts for China because that could be problematic for my Chinese readers — their government takes a very dim view of anyone who discusses China’s internal politics in terms that contradict the party line. (To be fair, that’s been true in China for more than two thousand years.) Anyone who takes the time to learn mundane astrology can draw up ingress charts for Beijing. As for the spread of Wuhan flu, that’s one of the major questions about the epidemic — so far it’s shown fairly modest rates of person-to-person transmission outside China. The rates from China are so radically different from those outside China that something’s got to be going on.

    MichaelK, I don’t think that’s as certain as all that. The great virtue of democracy is that it enables inept elites to be removed by a means other than civil war, and so even the comfortable classes have come to adapt themselves to it, since losing an election is a lot less personally lethal than losing a revolution. It’s crucial not to make the mistake of thinking of democracy in idealized terms; real democracy — the kind that actually exists — is by definition grubby, riddled with graft and fraud, and productive of awkward compromises rather than clear outcomes. As Churchill said, it’s the worst system of government, except for all the others.

    Roger, another reason I’m glad I don’t watch TV!

    Eike, thank you! It’s in the hands of a publisher as we speak — wish me luck. I’m startled but not surprised to hear about Chris — you don’t poke the dragon with a stick if you don;t want to get singed…

    Steve, smart of them. That’s a mature technology, very effective at a range of tasks.

    Nancy, I tend to think that the focus on the .01% misleads; it’s the upper 20% whose role deserves close scrutiny.

    Will, okay, the DNC is scared pea green about Sanders, then.

    Bridge, I wonder how many of those notional views are being quietly blocked by adblockers and the like!

    Ol’ Bab, I think you’re quite mistaken, because beautiful architecture was being built many centuries before fossil fuels were more than a geological curiosity. It doesn’t take money to achieve beauty — it takes things that were well known in ancient times, like a sense of proportion, an awareness of human scale, and the use of materials that people find pleasant to look at and encounter.

    e Hu, you’re welcome. Oddly enough, I also got a low grade from a paper of mine, in which I pointed out that the example of the servant boy in Plato’s Meno undercuts the entire argument of the Republic

  137. BoysMom, that’s a great example of the regulatory catch-22s that are used to make life difficult for small businesses. You can bet that the big corporate farms don’t have to worry about being hassled like that.

    David BTL, “It’s their destiny, Luke.” 😉

    (Did I ever explain that “Dem-Reps” is also an edged little pun on Regency England slang, in which a “demi-rep” was a high-class whore?)

    DFC, it’s in the interests of the managerial caste to make society as hypercomplex as possible; a great deal of simplification could take place without harming most peoples’ standards of living, though it would leave a lot of managers jobless. As for the employment stats, the breakdown to watch isn’t by industry but by unskilled, semiskilled, skilled, etc. — it’s the increasing availability of entry level jobs for the unskilled that’s boosting economies in the flyover states so rapidly.

    BB, funny.

    Jacurutu, now surprise me. Bezos has had a bright orange target painted on him for a while now.

    Elizabeth, I see your crystal ball is in good working order. The Sacred Geometry Oracle is about to be reprinted by Aeon Books, in a simpler and more attractive format with slight changes; I’ve worked up a broader system of spiritual practice centered on it, which will be published in book form by the same publisher. The Sphere of Protection, discursive meditation, and divination with the Sacred Geometry Oracle will be the three core practices, but it’ll also include a great deal more, including (ultimately) astrology. For the time being, this link will get you to a set of instructions for the Sphere of Protection, if you don’t already know it — scroll all the way to the bottom to begin.

    DFC, that’s also a useful analysis.

    Sara, interesting. Thanks for the data point!

    Roberta, that’s not at all impossible. I think, though, we’ll see a lot of people angling for that slot — and quite a diverse crowd it will be! As for Coyote, yes, exactly.

    Godozo, fascinating. I hope their descendants are doing better.

    Prizm, I saw something about that. I wonder — do you think that this has any connection with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among well-to-do women? Being expected to pay for the privilege of being denounced as a racist strikes me as a somewhat more refined form of BDSM than the novel was talking about — but I suppose the payoff in virtue signaling also has to be factored in.

  138. Methylethyl, that’s awful! HM should file a complaint with the state insurance commission, and if any of the local TV stations have a consumer-protection feature, HM should try to interest them in the story.

  139. Welcome back JMG! It’s good to read your words again!

    Another round of fresh thinking, as usual! I was always fascinated by those who made a good living in the managerial class, especially those who did what seemed to me there was no need for at all. I was always amazed, and I admit a bit envious, of what seemed to me to be a type of levitation trick. Such a position requires an ability, which I lack, to take oneself seriously when making such a big salary off what amounts to smoke-blowing. (Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t believe this is true of all managerial class jobs.)

    What I’m wondering is how far you think the removal of the managerial layer will go. Take something like Zoning, for example. I think, but I’m no history expert, that it started in the US with Progressives in the 1920s (funny how that name shares a root with capital-P Progress). I feel like implementing Zoning is good for the purpose of separating land uses that shouldn’t be adjacent (for instance residential homes and I don’t know, maybe a chemical factory). So in that sense it would be good to keep. On the other hand, these days it seems to be more of a regulatory burden than a boon to public health. I wonder if it’s something that could stay on the books and continue to be administered by the “non-experts,” or if it will get swept away entirely in an overreaction.

  140. I have been making some Monty python-esque farce on the topics covered in this blog post , specifically the managerial classes attempts to control the narrative around cultural appropriation when it serves their financial interests. Even if the interests of the working class pagans who are thrown under the bus?

  141. JMG,

    Welcome back. I’m glad your month off was productive!

    It appears that 50 cities in China were supposed to have gotten 5G service in October/November 2019.

    We have a saying where I work (local government) that when someone becomes a manager, the first thing they do is drink the Kool-aid HR gives them, which removes all memories of not being a manager. The second thing we say is that they take HR’s “Management 101: How to Mess Over Your Employees and Get Away with It.” We’ve been undergoing yet another morale/culture improvement program. A close friend who retired from there 22 years ago told me, “Ya know DJ, when an organization has to hire an outside consultant to tell them how zarked up they are, they’re beyond repair.” The big “joke” to many of us older employees is that the “steering committee” for how to proceed and what to do to improve things is made up exclusively of managers, many of whom are the very problem. Staff is not consulted. Things have gotten worse since this was started a year ago.

    As most of these managers are in or near the upper 20%, I concur with your comment to Nancy that the upper 20% needs to be scrutinized. As I dislike Kool-Aid, I have repeatedly refused to even apply for management positions. 😉 One year left before I walk away from that place.


  142. Believe it or not JMG, but I never felt safe amongst the narrative so commonly followed and precipitated through modern media. Your guess feels a bit more educated than anything I can come up with. Your ability to connect with groups of people I haven’t been able to understand it one big reason I keep coming back to read what is shared. Recently, my wife has encouraged me to bring our family to church and we’ve found a compromise within the Unitarian Universalists. Without a doubt I’ll get a lot more first hand experience with people I have had trouble understanding.

    That said, the Guardian articles topic definitely seems like an outlet that has been deemed safe for those mentioned in the article by the managerial class, and definitely some virtue signaling. They’re giving poor, oppressed peoples money.

  143. Blue Sun, that’s a very good question. My guess is that it will vary from place to place; some states may abolish zoning altogether, others will retain some or all of it, and the upshot will be a lot of diversity in which various experiments can be tried.

    Dan, delighted to hear it. I’m not a video fan at all, but I suspect a lot of my readers will enjoy this.

    Aidan, nice to see UnHerd catching on. Yes, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see a neo-Federalist architectural boom all over the country. It would be just as popular as the comments on dishwashers, too — most people loathe the gargantuan warts that pass for new buildings in this country, and would cheer to see them replaced by buildings in familiar styles that make sense. As the main character in my new novel The Nyogtha Variations points out, too many would-be creative people work so hard at making their work original that they forget to make it good.

    DJSpo, oh dear gods, yes. “Morale improvement programs” always end up trying to get the employees to be happier about being screwed over, rather than doing anything to address the very good reasons why morale is bad!

    Prizm, I trust you never thought I mistook you for someone dumb enough to believe the media narrative!

  144. Thank you for continuing to write about this JMG. It is heartening to see so many from varied ideological/political positions reading about and discussing this series of posts.

    I don’t know what the “answer” is, but I believe that those with the least power may risk their futures and lives if they don’t recognise the problem. Luckily most do, even if the dont frame this knowledge within a larger systemic picture.

    When I was young my family was regularly visited by a very pleasant and kind young woman. Notice of an upcoming visit always troubled and annoyed my mother.
    This gentle representative of state power visited because my sister had a number of disabilities that were known to create a lot of stress for a family coping with them, and to make enormous (some might say superhuman) demands on such a child’s mother. And so this person came to make sure we were “coping”.

    The house was made immaculate, scones were baked, and my siblings and I were threatened with the most dire consequences for any hint of misbehaviour. I suspect my sister received a massive increase on the prescribed dose of her anti-convulsant drugs, not to prevent seizures, which were a regular occurrence no matter what dose she was given, but to prevent her demonstrating one of her ‘brainstorms’ of violent rage that kept our lives in chaos and various local repairmen in business. The result was a tea-party show-casing civilisation at its finest.

    When I asked my mother about these visits she sighed. “Veronica” she said, was a very nice girl from a very good family. Very soon she would marry a nice boy from a very good family. “In the meantime she will be visiting us”. (The last line was spoken with a cynical world-weariness).

    My mother played the game like a champion. The stakes were very high. “Veronica” could have plunged our family into devastating “help” that I suspect none of us would have ever been able to entirely recover from, and stepped lightly away without any idea of what she had done.

  145. As to the origin of the passion for butt-ugly architecture, I suspect David Babcock is right when he suspects it is largely about cost.

  146. Welcome back, JMG. Hope you enjoyed your time off.

    I remember when you predicted more than a year in advance that Donald Trump would win the 2016 election. I did not think there was any way that could happen, yet it did. And this time around as well, you seem pretty confident in Trump’s chances for re-election, and I have been skeptical… until now. The impeachment disaster and Iowa Caucus dumpster-fire are such unbelievably bone-headed unforced errors that I can’t help but wonder if the DNC is intentionally trying to throw the election for some reason. I can’t come up with any reason why they would, and yet… *shrug*

  147. JMG You predicted this year that the “experts” would pass their pull date in the media or something along that line. Does the apocalypse lobby fall under that category? Is the apocalypse lobby really the baby boomers learning they’re mortal/not special/privileged at all? Is it the Baby Boomers realizing they can’t juice the system as consultants anymore?

    What I see is an apocalypse for older gen-xers and Baby Boomers in the near future… the Corona Virus would certainly play into that as the flu and that generally kill older people. The financial system is the Baby Boomer’s retirement plan and we know it’s a BS system.

    If you predict that the experts and main stream media are passing their pull dates, aren’t you effectively predicting the Baby Boomers finally losing their grip on power?

  148. hah I am pleased you haven’t mistaken me for a media narrative following fool! I’ll take that as a compliment!

    On another note, similarly related to this weeks theme, and my CGD seed meditation theme.. my seed has suffered a devastating injury while I moved it and observed it. The main root sprout disconnected. The day after this, I noticed the cotyledon had greened as if it were going to begin photosynthesis. In my eyes, there is no chance at survival. Yet the germinating seed continues as if life will go on. I couldn’t help but correlate this to the managerial class and the group who has given them scraps, the Democratic party. Even when struck a fatal blow, the desire to continue as if nothing happened is a common occurrence in life. Now I can only imagine the managerial class laying along the pathway shouting “It’s nothing but a flesh wound!”

  149. Kind Sir.

    Good to have you back.

    What I find remarkable about people like Lind, is how they manage to work out the blindingly obvious roughly 10 – 20 years later than everyone else and actually seem to believe they came up with something groundbreaking. I wonder how long it took him to figure out that dropping his pants before following nature’s call has advantages.

    You mentioned, that you might write something on the reason for the ugliness of modern architecture. I would certainly want to read that.
    I live in a land of great natural beauty and not so great manmade ugliness. Any thoughts on what makes us create all those abominations would be welcome.
    Until you get around to it, here’s what someone else thinks on the subject:
    The first picture shows what I believe to be a good sized shoggoth making a nest in an otherwise rather unremarkable central european town.
    For everything that’s wrong with architecture here in Australia, at least we did not do THAT.
    google “kunsthaus graz” if you don’t believe me. Close your eyes and open them only one at a time.
    Is this architecture jumping the shoggoth?

  150. I told my wife, who is a little sensitive to MSG, about the CNN article stating that MSG is not bad for you, unless you’re just racist.

    Her immediate reply: “Of course, that makes perfect sense! After all I’m a racist!”

  151. “As long as the managerial overthrow includes insurance companies who won’t cover rabies shots…. bring it on!”

    But before medical care costs bankrupt this nation all by themselves, let’s ask the real question: Why do rabies shots cost thousands of dollars?

  152. CodyCross, puzzle group 72, puzzle 5:

    This man invented Cthulhu.

    I’m telling you, we have an agent at Computer HQ, Games Division. The first step to RULING THE WORLD!

    And we’d do a lot better than the PMC. For instance, my pharmacist is terrified they’ll kill someone someday. In addition to filling and checking prescriptions while being interrupted by constant incoming phone calls, now she has to make outgoing “sales” calls to try to sell you “services” CVS has cooked up.

    Now. Assume you are coming in to fix this. You’d have one person making the sales calls, one taking the incoming calls and writing up messages for the pharmacist, and everyone else counting and dispensing pills without being distracted every 10 seconds by phone calls. If our PMC can’t figure this out, they aren’t very professional or managerial.

  153. Hi John,

    It looks like people are starting to challenge Bernie Sanders on his hypocritical sellout to the donor class by raising one of the points you have talking about for years, namely the way that the elites have used mass immigration, including the tacit encouragement of illegal immigration, to drive down wages and screw over the working class.

    I have no doubt we will this used as a major talking point by Trump and his supporters during the election, particularly if Sanders manages to get the Democratic Party nomination.

  154. Even though I might quibble with the political subtext of this post (i.e. Trump is the Gray Champion for blue collar America), the overall thesis feels right in my bones: We’re a nation that’s growing weary of the Super Bowl commercials telling us everything is fine when it’s not. I can only offer my own experience in support:

    – My brother, an Army veteran, never found a secure place in California’s neo-feudal economy. He muddled through for years, got himself into a horrific financial/emotional mid life crisis and finally, took his own life. It’s a very painful story but on some level, I believe that the environment for middle aged men in today’s America contributed to his death.
    – My high school friends have scattered across the Western U.S. The happiest ones seem to have “dropped out”, working with their hands and/or have unconventional lifestyles. The “responsible” ones seem trapped in some version of low level “sales”, whilst posting angry political memes on Facebook.
    – For those us who “learned how to code”, literally or figuratively, life is good, although the late nights in service to our lords can be taxing. In return, I don’t worry about money anymore. That being said, I can’t deny that I’m expending the best of my life force for a fraction of a basis point of shareholder value. That realization hurts.
    – Everyone knows this, but the entire West Coast, for a variety of reasons (high COL, mild weather, tolerant attitudes, government dysfunction) is ground zero for the homeless crisis. Living in a parking lot is becoming generational at this point.

    Bottom line, there’s a lot of unhappy folks. It’s not Venezuela. But we’re definitely in some kind of purgatory that strongly resembles an abandoned shopping mall. Revolution is in the air and, being an old-ish dude, I’m afraid innocent people will get hurt. On the other hand, revolution is necessary for my kids to have a future.

  155. JMG:
    The kids had mixed outcomes. One son turned out to be a drinker, the other son did manual labor for the longest time (did well enough for himself). One daughter taught ESL and has since retired, the other died from lung cancer.

    As for grandchildren…one kid between the four, and that one was adopted out.

  156. That’s a good point about money, and ironically some gamblers have the same complaint in the other direction. Comps used to be as much about relationships as betting, then it became computerised and points earned can be redeemed from a fixed list of options. So they became far more impersonal and more like currency.

    You’re making me refine my thinking on this. What a token economy does is reduce fungibility and increase status. It relies on the operator being able to dole out something in return for a certain behaviour as an alternative to paying for it, or even providing something that no amount of money could buy. For example casino resorts have a huge number of rooms anyway, so it costs them nothing to comp a player’s room if they’re betting big enough. That sort of room you could just pay for, but at the highest levels it becomes more exclusive. There’s a story that Bill Gates went to Vegas and wanted to stay in one of the villas they keep for whales. He was told no even after offering $25,000 a night. He was told the villas were for people who play $25,000 a hand. So while that was about money, it was specifically about gambling a lot of money.

    This is also where status comes into it. You can earn money and spend it in a far greater variety of ways than with any reward system. But the token economy makes you feel like you’ve earned it in a different way and makes you feel special. From access to the executive lounge to the fact high-end credit cards are made of metal instead of plastic. The film Up in the Air is all about chasing status, far beyond just it’s monetary value. The Master and Margarita features the communist version where everyone wants to be in the Writers’ Union for the very nice membership card and access to one of the best restaurants in the city. So if you were going to use it for social engineering, one example might be a reward of riding public transport for free. There are any number of ways a person could earn an equivalent amount of money, but they likely wouldn’t feel as good as qualifying for the free ride.

    So if you set it up right it’s the perfect system of control. People do what you want them to do and in return get what you want them to have (or just had lying around). And instead of hating you for it, they’ll post a flex video where they proudly hold up their Tier 1 Citizenship certificate to prove they’re no longer a ‘low information voter’. 🙂 It’s not even that outlandish when you consider how much your credit rating altready affects how organisations will treat you.

    Now that I think about it, there are countries starting to head in that direction. In Israel if you sign up as an organ donor, but then need an organ yourself, you can jump the queue ahead of non-donors. That would be easy enough to extend so anyone who was willing to donate organs or leave their body to science would get a free funeral, even if their cause of death ultimately made their body unusable. That sort of thing encourages the right behaviour without feeling grubby and corrupt. Which brings us neatly to China. They’re really going to town on the Social Credit System, but it looks like that will become increasingly dominated by corruption and its punitive aspect, sacrificing the potential for more subtle behaviour control.

  157. Hi JMJ,
    Get your thoughts on the managerial class, though some experts are still worth listening too I’m sure. Here in the UK we have something similar going on as you alluded to.
    I also note the CoronaVirus comments made so far and your one comment on it. It is looking increasingly likely it is less flu like and more SARS like with a death rate between 5 and 15% where excellent health care is not available. So not a bad flu but a world changing Black Swan event. You’ve mentioned them in the past – looking like one’s reared its head to shake things up big style. Any advice welcome.

  158. The examples for the insanity of the managerial class now comes thick and fast. Not only has the botched election in Thuringia cause quite a stir, now somewhere the naming of the new coronavirus as Wuhan virus has been criticized as racist. And there is still no winner declared for Iowa – I’m quite curious how the next caucuses will go. The 2020s promise to get quite lively. And there has occurred to me that the stretch from 2020 to 2030 in the business-as-usual diagram of the Limits to Growth show as their most marked property a marked decline in industrial production; it may be that the possibility of an economic slump in China may be an expression of this, if it isn’t entirely due to the Wuhan virus.

  159. Back when all the “impeach the bad orange man” started, I mentioned that impeachment was the formal bringing of charges, it is an indictment, done by the House. Then it would be sent to the Senate for trial. There are 53 Republican Senators, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents. Assuming all the Dems plus the 2 Indis vote guilty, it would need TWENTY Republicans to also vote guilty. Do you REALLY think that many of Mitch McConnell’s minions will vote Trump guilty?” I got everything from “You must be a Trump supporting b….. “ to “Oh I’m sure they” will “do the right thing” Ive not bothered reposing this on FB ,because many on my feed are flinging themselves against the walls. My point was this. There is no way the Senate will find him guilty, and even if they do, they then need a second vote to determine punishment. They can do anything from finger waving to removing him…so why go through ANY of it if you know going in you haven’t a chance of conviction?” That didn’t go over well, either. I did grasp that it was frantic virtue signaling .
    I’ve often called modern architecture a pack of soulless glass boxes, and soul crushing parasitic concrete monsters. Strange it took the “Bad Orange Man” to point this out. The reaction from the architectural elites was as expected “ Oh crap!! Even the President sees we have no clothes” It will be interesting

  160. Hi JMG,

    A warm welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your hiatus from blogging and I’m looking forward to seeing the new material.

    Many thanks to Phil K for the note about Trump’s architecture proposal. I follow a number of architecture and development sites and had not seen anything about this. Once again, Ecosophia is the best “news aggregator” for my interests.

    Folks interested in the origins of Modern Architecture might like Ann Sussman’s book Cognitive Architecture. She reviews how architecture shapes our moods and behaviors, and has very critical conclusions about the negative effects of excessively modern design.

    In one section, she traces the influence of PTSD from World War One on some leading modernists in the 1920s. Take a look at a brutalist concrete building some time and then compare it to a WWI era fortification. The results are pretty startling.


  161. JMG
    You replied
    “As for the Welsh building, notice that it’s still standing and perfectly usable almost 600 years after it was built — unlike modern Uglicist architecture, which is usually fit only to be torn down in 50 years or so…
    I totally agree. I should have added ‘with luck’ to my talk of survival of representational democracy and decent appropriate buildings. I actually think the British Isles might do it. That is a pretty solid building even if the imagination that generated it failed and his wife and children died of unknown causes in the Tower of London.
    If we go back further for buildings, e.g. early monasteries in re-Christian Britain, we get some splendid carpentry in surviving fragments. The Church and its structures were supported by local Kings. Further consolidation took a while.


  162. @JMG and Prizm, if I may: as a member of the rough age/gender/class cohort in the Guardian article (though not of the same beliefs!), I might be of some help in translation. The women in the story have been informed, through their liberal college educations and post-college media exposure, that they most likely harbor some deep racism. Racism is bad, therefore self-improvement is needed, because perfection in all things, at all times, is required for membership. So, obviously, they call in the paid experts to help de-racism themselves, just as they would hire a personal trainer to help tone up those trouble spots. They understand that the process may be painful and require effort on their parts- they’ve been to spin classes, after all, and had extensive personal hair removal experience, not to mention wearing high heels; trading pain for perfection is nothing new to them. There may be some self-punishment involved, but I don’t really think it’s of the “Fifty Shades of Gray” variety. Some of the women are likely aware that they are very, very privileged- remember that education- and feel guilty. Trying to change their own thinking- think of all those awareness campaigns that purport to be deeply helping various causes- is the best response they can construct.

    JMG, I understand that, as a group, these are some of your very least favorite people. There are good reasons for that. But do try to have some compassion; it’s not all just stupidity and virtue-signaling. Many are genuinely trying to be better people, but are limited by what they have been exposed to and understand. They haven’t had the unthinkable thoughts yet.

    –Heather in CA

  163. I’m one of the people sensitive to MSG. I’m not as bad as some people, but if I eat too much of it I get kind of queasy, and out of curiosity I just took a look at the list of places I know I need to avoid, and found that not one Asian restaurant is on the list. In fact, all the places are western style restaurants. I’ve even made a note for when I travel (especially in the US) that it seems to be safer to eat at Asian restaurants! So the entire idea I’m avoiding MSG because I’m racist seems patently absurd.

    “Will, okay, the DNC is scared pea green about Sanders, then.”

    It makes sense they would be. Iowa was a caucus, which means it’s only open to party members and insiders. Thus, what Sander’s remarkable success there says is that the DNC has lost control, not just of the voters, but of the rank and file party members. It’s going to be fascinating to see how this plays out.

  164. Jasper and others: I didn’t mean to say that low information voters are confined to the Trump camp. They aren’t. On “the wars” that Jasper mentioned, if I thought that conservative military non-interventionism and conservative environmentalism could be taken seriously, I’d be well on the way to becoming a conservative myself. Though I’ve been voting for Democrats since Nixon vs Humphrey, I’m very fed up with the Dems and have been for a long time. However, I can’t imagine voting for Trump or anyone named Bush or Ted Cruz or that other guy from Florida whose name I’ve blocked from memory.

  165. Oilman2 & Polecat “Being a near-anarchist, if I had been in your shoes, the likely event would have seen me hop the property line, dig a hole, shove the carcass in and slide the sod right over the top of the mess.”

    Love the “near anarchist” term. Definitely describes my outlook on most things. My property is surrounded on 3 sides by a empty, decaying huge old Victorian home owned by a family out of state. Maybe once a year the town mows the property but other then that they have no concern with the property. So because of this I have taken to hopping over the fence to cut the wisteria vines that are invading my yard and pruning the trees in their yard that overhang my fence. The property also contains an abandoned in ground pool that is now a stagnant mosquito breeding ground. So monthly I go over and throw some mosquito larva-cide tablets in the stagnant water apparently it doesn’t harm any other wildlife and I know that to be true because of the chorus of frogs I hear from the pool all summer long. One time when I was sneaking around to go throw the larva-cide in I ran into my elderly neighbor who was doing the same thing. We had a good laugh and decided to coordinate our extralegal mosquito abatement efforts.

    My town is interesting though because it is a very old Quaker village with a large village green and when I moved here I noticed that at least amongst the old time residents there is a very non-American concept of property rights here. People take shortcuts through each others yards, wander all around the Quaker owned property, park overnight in public buildings lots and with consent park on each others property. A new resident put up a No Trespassing sign on their yard and it I think a lot of us were jarred by it. Maybe if that new resident came to the yearly village holiday party they’d take down the sign. But I’m not sure appetizers, copious champagne and conversation with neighbors can undo the concepts of “god given” American “I’ll Shoot Any Intruders” property rights.

  166. The friendly neighborhood biologist returns!

    @Leo Augustine and others about the coronavirus: sorry, but take it from me, he wuhan coronavirus is vehemently NOT bioengineered. I have the genome sequence on my laptop right now. The paper claiming ‘uncanny’ resemblance of some sequences in it to HIV was a pretty shoddy piece of work that hadn’t been reviewed by other scientists. The scientific community read it, brought MAJOR concerns to the people who wrote it, and they have already published the preprint-equivalent of an erratum saying that they see their conclusions were not right.

    They found four insertions in the wuhan coronavirus genome relative to the SARS sequence, and found that two of them were exact matches for tiny pieces (literally ~5 amino acids) in various HIV strains and that two of them which were large contained small pieces within them that could be matched to various HIV strains. They, however, failed to report something called the expectation value – the probability that a match is due entirely to chance. It was high. For short sequences it is easy to have them coincide due to chance, for sequences coming from the proteins of viral particles which are biased in their composition compared to others it is even easier, and when looking through very large piles of sequences it is even more likely especially when you are looking at viruses with very high mutation rates like HIV. In particular, something like one in five viral sequences that you can look up in the world are from HIV due to all the research that has been done on it and it mutates so fast that almost any 5 amino acid sequence can be found in one of those sequences. I think the figures pencil out that you would be surprised *not* to find those short segments in some HIV strain if you went looking, and they can be found in random other sequences too. The locations of the insertions in the coronavirus sequence and where they matched in HIV also completely didn’t match, functionally.

    It’s all moot anyway, because there is another virus on record that has been sequenced but was ignored by that paper, that was found in wild bats, contains all these insertions (plus or minus one or two mutations), and has a common ancestor with the virus that is currently circulating up to 50 years ago. Viruses just like it have been circulating in bats for quite some time, and one managed to hop into humans.

    The virus is your garden variety animal-to-human epidemic of the sort we are going to have to deal with a lot over the next hundred years. The data is suggesting that it could *potentially* have a death rate north of one percent for those infected, which while not at all apocalyptic is vehemently not good. (I completely don’t trust any of the stats from within China at this point and am watching the values from outside it.) I am watching it carefully to see if it manages to go uncontained outside of China and as more trustable data on the death and complication rates becomes available. Even if it is massively biased towards killing the elderly, I have parents.


    @ Will J about MSG and addictiveness: I would think it would be much more likely for MSG to be ‘addictive’ in the way sugar is, or the carefully-crafted balance of fat and salt in unhealthy fast food. Not addictive like nicotine is, but still an unnatrurally pure substance that overwhelms our nervous systems tuned for real food that gets you ‘addicted’ to something unhealthy psychologically rather than chemically.

    I would be much less willing to put money on MSG being chemically addictive than on it having a systemic effect on the autonomic nervous system that some people react poorly to in the moment. Not all neurotransmitter mimics are addictive. Famously, acetylcholine mimics (like nicotine) are highly addictive while seratonin mimics (like LSD) do not cause dependence or cravings in nearly the same way. Most of the drugs that are addictive are mimics of neurotransmitters that are way more powerful than the neurotransmitters themselves too. And MSG-type glutamate DOES exist in real food and is important, just not as much as in processed food, or else we wouldn’t have evolved to be able to taste it and enjoy its taste. Again, much like sugar.

  167. Regarding that comment Mr. Greer, ” too many would-be creative people work so hard at making their work original that they forget to make it good”, this issue in the (Western) art world began in ~1880 with the rise of “modernism”, a rejection of tradition in the high culture in pursuit of novelty. A lot of early modernist art was pretty good only because there was still a traditional culture to push against in a way there isn’t today.

    On the subject of the greater cultural health of simplification relative to over-complexity, do you believe that credential inflation plays into this. The “cliodynamist” Peter Turchin describes a process of “elite overproduction” leading to social and economic instability. Too many “progressives” nowadays think that society would be healthier with the likes of “universal Pre-K-to-PhD”; in other words, to inflate university credentials like the Zimbabwean currency! After all, it seems natural. The Western World has gone from societies where most didn’t need high school before the First World War to one where most attended high school but didn’t need college/university before the Second World War to the boomer generation and beyond striving for more and more post-secondary degrees. Yet, evidence shows this doesn’t lead to greater social health:

    During the “Great Compression” in your country (I live in Canada) Mr. Greer, American culture seemed to have a certain affection for the simple as pure and less corrupt. Between Gracie Allen in 1932 ( to Goldie Hawn in 1968 (, a sizable portion of American culture ran with this theme with a bit of Li’l Abner, Gilligan, and Pamela Tiffin (see 1:05:30 of thrown in.

    As for art, the New Deal public murals and art were dominated by the “Regionalist” aesthetic which portrayed and valorized native-born, humble, rural Americans by contrast to corrupt, decadent urbanites.

  168. Dear JMG,

    I’m extremely excited to hear that your Sacred Geometry Oracle is being spruced up and reprinted. Your original one, which I work with now, is beautiful and elegant and amazingly DEEP.

    Thank you from Elizabeth (who lives on a boat at Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle).

  169. @ E. Goldstein there are folks over at the Deep Adaptation (people who generally subscribe to Jem Bendell’s ten-years-before-climate-change-takes-us-out) Facebook group who are interested in hearing more about how to set the groundwork for when localized drug production becomes necessary. Some of the people there are near term human extinctionists, but others are much more amenable to Long Descent scenarios where the only thing over in ten years is BAU.

  170. @dana1 Sitzkrieg? I like that; I’ll have some of that.

    @JMG Just freeloaders? I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt because the two taxes that raise most of their ire are council tax and the television licence that funds the BBC. Both are regressive – applied without taking income into account, in both cases tax is taken on post income tax money. Failure to pay either is a crime – the magistrate courts are full of defaulters. Some are jailed.

    The BBC is supposed to be impartial, but anyone familiar with their recent output regarding Brexit would have rapidly reached the conclusion that it is very much the mouthpiece of the managerial classes you’ve mentioned and at this stage of its decline very little more.

    Council tax does buy some public goods. Rubbish and recycling collection, some contribution to the care of the elderly, road maintenance (filling potholes) but not new roads. Libraries. Trading standards rigidly enforced. Unfortunately it also purchases endless layers of managers, chief executives earning more than the PM, enforcement of building rules that have pushed the price of housing beyond many pockets. Sinecures for political buddies. The managerial classes are strongly present in UK councils.

    The comfortable can laugh off the impost as a few percentage points of income, but for the poor it’s significant. It felt unjust to me a decade ago when I was at a low point, I’m sure it feels unjust to the lawful rebels these days.

    It is a -poor excuse for a legal defence though.

  171. @ David BTL

    Bloomberg/ Romney 2020

    That’s a frightening thought. I would probably have to vote for Trump. My guess is that combo would repel more Democrats than Republicans it brings to the table. If Bloomberg gets the nomination, I think he needs a running mate to the left of him but what do I know.

  172. Regarding the DNC… more than a few non-mainstream pundits have correctly observed that a Bernie victory would put most of the current DNC establishment out of a job, which to them is a far greater threat than losing another election. This of course speaks volumes about their true priorities.

  173. @ David BTL

    Come to think of it, Bloomberg/Romney would set up an all Republican race. The old Republicans featuring a 2004 Republican Convention speaker and 2012 presidential nominee against the new Republicans represented by Trump. “New Democrats” indeed. Are the Democrats ready to slide into the dustbin of history?

  174. @DFC and others:

    I am very disinclined to give Trump credit for anything good (except canceling the so-called “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, for which I am very grateful). I don’t live in the USA and find it hard to pick my way through the economics statistics. What I do find remarkable is that the official numbers on mortality in the USA for 2018 (finally released at the end of January 2020) show a slight increase in life expectancy after three years in a row of decreasing life expectancy (something which had never before been seen in peacetime). The age groups with the strongest improvement were those below 35 years. This fact is so remarkable that another official report teased the reasons apart. 50% of the prolonged fall in life expectancy was due to “unintentional injuries” (an euphemism for overdoses, car accidents etc.); a lower number of these same “unintentional injuries” is the most important (in men) and second most important (in women) cause for the slight recovery in 2018.

    I think it would be very interesting to see these numbers broken down by state and by income group, but the USA seems to make accessing such numbers harder than e.g. Canada does. Please tell us if you find these number! If high mortality, especially among younger people, and especially by “unintentional injuries”, is some kind of a tip of an iceberg for worsened living conditions, then something has in fact improved in 2018. I find it necessary to wait and see if the slight improvement has continued in 2019 and will continue in 2010, and also if it is really due to Trump’s policies, but voters will make their decision much earlier.

  175. Welcome back!

    Someone may have already suggested this, but just in case. Considering what the next decade will be like (2020 – 2030) maybe we should call it the Raging Twenties.

    As for boxy, ugly commercial architecture. Fire codes, the ADA, zoning, etc all lead to ugly boxes. More worrisome is what a member of Hershey’s board of supervisors told me. He said that shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels (which are being busily built all over the sweetest place on earth) are designed and built to last about 20 years!

    Twenty years! After that, the initial developer more than made back the investment and walks away, leaving a building to rot.

    As for wuhan corona virus. Once it makes it to Africa, they’ll all be Kung Flu fighting.

    I’ve really missed your weekly posts.

    Teresa from Hershey

  176. Thanks for the translation, Heather in CA! Everyone deserves some kind of compassion but I must admit I can’t summon more than the bare minimum for these ladies. Their influence helped destroy a society in less than a century. I have even less compassion for the men of their class, who never once came out in public and tried to stop them. “To hell with everything else, as long as I get sex and can parade a trophy in public” seems to have been their view.

  177. Hi Teresa from Hershey,

    I once worked with a guy who had previously worked for the company that built the apartments I lived in at the time. He said they had been designed to last 55 years. (I envisioned an alarm going off at precisely midnight of D-Day, and us all starting up in bed as the building crumbles about us.). The original idea had been to sell them as condos, so I wondered why not 60 years, the length of 2 or 3 mortgages. He’d wondered about that too, but nobody knew.

  178. I welcome the return of JMG, but after reading this essay twice, I have to admit that I’m not quite sure what he’s trying to say. Perhaps one needs to be an American to fully understand the allusions. Anyway, regarding managing our collective affairs my experience may be germane.

    I’ve lived through two huge shake-ups in the national administration in South Africa — the first in 1948 when the Afrikaners won an all-white election and used the power of the state to pull themselves up from the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer war which had left their farms burned, their cattle stolen, and their wives and children in concentration camps; and the second in 1994 when the previously disadvantaged POCs used the power of the state to undo the damage of the apartheid years which had barred them from government, land, professional and managerial jobs, and higher education.

    In both cases, it was accomplished by a rapid kicking-out of the old administrators and their replacement by the favoured members of the new elite, administering policies designed to benefit a selected part of the population.

    In both cases, disaster was predicted because of the new guys’ inexperience. The Afrikaners who took over from the English proved to be very able administrators and the country thrived, at least the white part. The Africans who took over from the Whites have not managed so well, and the big state-owned enterprises are in dire straits.

    One final thought. The administrator class are rule-followers. They are worried about their salaries and their pensions, and will carry out whatever policy is handed down, no matter what their own personal inclinations are.

  179. SarahJ, that’s a classic example; thank you.

    Onething, the problem with that claim is that vernacular architecture around the world, designed and built by ordinary people without benefit of archtectural theory, is routinely both cheap and attractive, while buildings designed by professional architects for clients who spared no expense are almost all butt-ugly. No, I propose — and in future posts, will prove — that after the First World War, for reasons rooted in the culture of the time, avant-garde architects deliberately rejected beauty and human scale in their designs; after the Second World War, for reasons equally cultural, their ideas — what I’m calling the Uglicist approach to architecture — became pervasive throughout the industrial world; and the architectural malpractice that resulted from the ascendancy of Uglicism has done much more than most people realize to drive the social problems of our time.

    Troy, before Iowa my prediction was that he’d take 34 states and a comfortable majority of the popular vote. At this point it’s going to be more than that, and unless the Democrats stop shooting themselves through all four cheeks with a single bullet, it could be as high as 42 states and a landslide in the popular vote. Whether or not the Dems want to lose, they’re certainly working at it with might and main.

    Austin, good; I see you’re paying attention. Yes, my generation is long past its pull date and I think we’re seeing its last tawdry hurrah right now.

    Prizm, that particular bit of Monty Python makes a very good metaphor for our time.

    DropBear, you’ve got to be gentle with Lind. As a card-carrying member of the managerial elite, he lives in a well-insulated bubble from which unwelcome influences have been sedulously excluded. The fact that he’s actually noticed the class war is praiseworthy — most other members of his class will look at you with blank vacuous expressions if you point out what their policies have done to the working classes. As for architecture, thanks for the article — it looks very thoughtful. Still, the shoggoths I know are quite upset that you compared that building to them. They consider it very ugly too!

  180. Regarding modern architecture…

    I agree with most of what’s been said about it, but I don’t think that the post-war style is uniformly ugly. I spent a few years at a small university (~2000 students) where the major buildings were done in a somewhat modernist style – lots of glass, asymmetric lines, few ornaments. But the place was small enough that it was all human scale (nothing was taller than three stories) and the main office building had a nice roomy lobby with a scale model of the Wright Flier hanging above your head.

    Also, it was in a desert. Glassy buildings go well with deserts. Just avoid huge walls of stark concrete – those are bad almost anywhere. It also helped that the walls that weren’t glass were brick or stucco, and the smaller buildings were in a more traditional style. The only buildings that were trying to stick out were the main offices on one end of the campus and the library on the other.

  181. I totally agree that investment in older technologies is a smart move, especially those technologies less prone to the planned-obsolesence disease afflicting the manufacturing industry in recent decades. What really jumped out at me though was the disdain the journalist had for the concept – he ridicules in suggesting that the CAQ government got the blimp idea from using helium as a recreational substance.

    The trouble with relying on professional expertise these days is that the professional experts all went to a professional expertise school. There, they all learned from the same schoolmaster (or instructor, professor, mentor, coach, leader, or whatever buzzword you want to euphemize him/her with), they read all the same books, they drank all the same drinks, wore the same clothes, cheered for the same teams, sang the same songs, danced to the same music, memorized the same information, thought the same thoughts, and consequently ended up buying into all the same principles and mores – regardless of whether or not any facts agree with their beliefs. Critical thinking necessary to separate opinion from fact in these learned principles and mores gets stifled (as e Hu commented that he found out the hard way) by the low grades issued as a disciplinary measure to anyone who dare disagree with the said schoolmaster. Critical thinking thus becomes replaced by deferral to concensus, where the expert accepts as truth anything believed by a large enough group of other experts – independent of fact, logic, and/or personal experience.

    So to control the thinking of the experts, all you have to do is persuade the schoolmaster and *POOF!* all the zombies follow along. It’s been a lovely sham, but American society is tired of it now and reacting accordingly. It’s promising to be quite the show, isn’t it?

  182. Dear Methylethyl,

    Many thanks for the kind words! I feel with every fiber of my being that a better, more humane world, is entirely possible and the seeds of not just this world, but many worlds, grow like weeds in the concrete of the failed dreams of the present!

  183. Dear JMG,

    If I may:

    I, for one, would be utterly fascinated to read your exploration of the aptly termed Uglicist architecture! Reading Kunstler’s _Geography of Nowhere_ filled me with a good deal more rage than I tend to feel in my body. I remember learning somewhere that Roman architects had to stand underneath every archway they designed and if it should fall they would die from their own incompetence. The Romans had the right idea — public spaces are defined by the architecture in them — as Kunstler and Spengler point out so trenchantly. The idea of making things as ugly as possible in the shared spaces of social process causes a cold wrath in me, quite honestly nearly unequaled by almost any other crime.

    This ugly architecture seems to deliberately make the area around it ugly. And, so, it is in a real sense a War on Beauty. Given my religious persuasion this enrages me as almost nothing else can. In my travels in Latin America I found abandoned factories filled with twisted rebar and wasps, in glades of eucalyptus trees with great nests of parrots, to be far, far more beautiful than downtown Boston. Likewise the floodwater ruined warehouses of New Orleans with their cat skulls, moldering furnishings, and great snowy owls.

    When you get to the point where rotting factories and ruined warehouses provide more beauty than public architecture in most major cities, something, has, really and truly, run off the rails. As Galina Krasskova said so brilliantly in one of her posts, I paraphrase, “What happened here? People are not born this stupid.”

  184. @newtonfinn
    “Indeed. Yet the explosion resulted in the election to our nation’s highest office of a shallow, narcissistic billionaire wheeler and dealer and former TV game show host”

    That’s still not as bad as what was there before. Many have a sense of “oh, how vulgar” (to see such a person as Trump in office), whereas I believe Obama, Bush, Hillary, Bill etc where even worse policy wise, more hypocritical, more war mongering, and faker. Trump is basically just tacky, with no manners and taste. I can live with that. As for using his Presidency to line his pockets? He was already a multi-billionaire. And the media weren’t as livid when Bush, Clinton, even Obama did their favors to their political contributors, or got nice jobs for them and their friends and staff members at corporate boards and the millitary-industrial complex.

    And his worse crime, the one the media and elites can’t forgive, is touting some anti-elite sentiments, things the elite don’t want to hear, whether he believes them or not: scaling back the Empire, anti-globalism (bringing jobs home), controlling immigration, dissing the endless parade of politically correct nutjobs their and identity politics.

  185. Carlos, funny. I wonder if the flacks at CNN have any idea how many people are laughing at them.

    Jacurutu, that’s one of the reasons I’m suggesting that it’s basically all over but the shouting. Now that people are talking openly about the real costs of economic globalization, Trumpismo — the populist economic nationalism for which our Orange Julius has become the poster child — can no longer be excluded from the public sphere, and the proponents of other standpoints are actually going to have to make a case for their views.

    Brian, you can always walk away, you know. When you’re on your deathbed, do you think remembering how much money you made is going to console you for the life you never got around to living?

    Godozo, sorry to hear that. One of those things…

    Jacurutu, no, no, it must have been the Russians!!! 😉 Honestly, do they have any idea how stupid they look?

    Yorkshire, interesting. I’m going to have to brood over that.

    Jay, we have no idea what’s actually happening inside China — the combination of controlled news media and uncontrolled rumor mills is notoriously inaccurate as a source of valid information, you know — and the death rate outside China, even in countries such as India and the Philippines, has remained extremely low. For that matter, a pandemic with a 15% death rate wouldn’t be worldchanging — the Spanish flu approached that in the hardest hit areas, and people just picked up and went on with their lives. I quite understand that a lot of people are longing for an apocalypse these days, but history suggests that yet again, they’re going to be disappointed…

    Booklover, I haven’t yet really looked into the situation in Thuringia, but I’ll make time to do that. More generally, yeah, it’s going to be a wild ride of a decade, and the Limits to Growth are still dead on track last I checked — if it’s still accurate ten years from now, we’ll be at the all-time peak of human population with a long slow decline ahead, and yeah, industrial production will have peaked and begun to slide. Hang on to your hat…

  186. There will certainly be much screaming to obscure the success. Even the normally-neutral Reuters falls into it a bit.

    “On average, Americans have seen a 17% jump in household wealth since Trump’s election, while wealth at the bottom half has increased 54%. […] but the vast majority went to groups that have tended to accumulate wealth in the past. […] Much of that increase among the bottom half was due to increases in real estate, not stocks, after a resurgence in home ownership rates that began in 2016.”

  187. Uglicist is good. I think it also applies in music. I’m thinking especially of Stalin-era Russian composers such as Shostakovitch and Kabalevsky (such as the latter’s first symphony from 1932) — the musical equivalent of brutalist architecture.

  188. Marlena, no, I don’t imagine that went over well at all!

    Samurai, many thanks for this. I’ll definitely want to see if I can find a copy of that book.

    Phil H, I’ve seen a fair amount of old architecture on my visits to Britain, and no question, it’s good. Now all you have to do is tear down the ugly new stuff and you’ll be fine. 😉

    Heather, fair enough. You’re right that I tend to think very poorly of that group of people — I’ve worked in retail and restaurants both, and I trust you know what kind of reputation professional upper middle class white women have earned in those settings. I’m certainly willing to concede that my experiences in that context may have given me a jaundiced view of that demographic.

    Will, yep. If Sanders does well in South Carolina, especially if Biden continues to crash and burn, it’ll be time to lay in an even larger stock of popcorn.

    Tony B., thanks for this. That was basically what I’d gathered from MMWR reports and the like, but it’s good to have it confirmed by someone who actually works in the science in question.

    Aidan, the concept of elite overproduction is highly useful — Toynbee discussed it before Turchin got to it, but from any source it’s crucial. My take is that the attempt to force everyone into the university system is partly a full employment program for academics who don’t have any marketable skills, and partly an attempt to enforce universal indoctrination into the ideology of American liberalism, which has had the universities as its central base of support for decades now. Me, I’m on Li’l Abner’s side; I value urban culture and university education but emphatically not as a monoculture!

    Elizabeth, I used to live on Phinney Ridge and spent a lot of time in Ballard, so Shilshole Bay is familiar territory to me. Say hi to the sea lions at the locks for me. 😉

    Evan, thanks for this.

    Andy, if they want to see specific taxes repealed, and don’t object to paying those that cover necessary services, that’s another matter. From what you said, I thought they were equivalent to our so-called “sovereign citizens” over here, who are freeloaders pure and simple — “We won’t pay taxes, but don’t you dare deny us access to tax-funded services!”

    TJ, a good point!

    Patricia, thanks for this. It’s still very interesting to me that Buttigeig jumped from fourth to first place without warning…

    T.J., hah! He is indeed.

    Teresa, well, we’ll see about the Twenties. As for architecture, the one good thing about that is that in the not too distant future, a lot of very ugly architecture will be gone forever, and so a movement returning to architecture that works and isn’t nauseatingly ugly will have something of a clean slate to work with!

    Jay Pine, interesting. I know they’ve also found very similar viruses in bats, which are eaten as a delicacy in Wuhan.

    Martin, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, I can only speak from my own experience, and that’s very much an American experience. Other countries’ mileage may vary.

  189. Your Kittenship, that may just be the most absolutely, typically American reader board I’ve ever seen…

    Wesley, of course there are exceptions. Architecture schools work hard to stamp out every trace of taste, elegance, and grace from the minds of their students, but the law of averages guarantees that they don’t always succeed.

    Steve, exactly. That’s why I expect the backlash against Uglicist architecture — and idiotic expertise generally — to target the universities first and foremost, and to push a revival of apprenticeship as a route into the skilled professions. Lawyers, architects, etc. in the US used to be prepared for their work by apprenticing with an experienced practitioner, not by going to universities; that far less centralized approach to learning led to better outcomes, and returning to it will also allow the emerging populist majority to cut off the managerial elite at the knees, or slightly higher.

    Violet, I’m definitely considering it; thanks for the encouragement. Galina is right, of course — people aren’t born that stupid. They have to be taught not to pay attention to the obvious.

    Kiashu, I don’t imagine that’s going to go over well among the well-off radicals who used to bemoan income inequality while supporting the policies that made it happen…

    Phutatorius, I won’t argue at all!

  190. JMG, whenever someone starts in with that sovereign-citizen bull(unDruidly word), I ask, “So, do you drive on the roads?”

    Nobody’s tried the s-c on me in quite a while! 😄

  191. A little media blip here in Canada might shed some light on what’s actually motivating the hype surrounding this WooHoo! coronavirus lately. About 20 years ago or so, there was a scare about a meningitis “epidemic” splattered all over the newspapers and television. The claim was made that the disease was spreading so fast that there were now twice as many cases as the previous year! Anyone who paid attention to the actual text of the news reports instead of merely reacting with blind emotion to the sensational headlines found out what that claim was based on: there were now 6 cases; the previous year, there were 3. In Mississauga, a densely populated suburb of Toronto.

    A little more investigation revealed the cause of the hype: about a year or so prior to the alleged epidemic, some enterprising pharaceutical company developed a meningitis vaccine, only to discover they had mostly wasted their investment capital on it because the market demand was not there to justify it. So instead of learning the lesson and then improving their investment strategies they had set about to create the said demand….

  192. Nice essay thanks for the read.

    Got to take issue with “Those readers with a taste for intellectual history can trace that notion all the way back to Plato’s Republic, that fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings spouting “noble” lies and sending heavily armed Guardians to enforce their will, so that human beings could be made to behave the way that Plato thought they should behave.” as a critique of Plato, because Plato’s Republic is must misunderstood.

    The majority of people – simple farmers and the market and administrators were largely ignored by the Guardians and were left to come up with their own law to manage the afairs of trade etc…(what we think of as politics)… The Society of the Republic is most similar to Butan. The Warrior monks living is austere poverty but they are the rulers…

  193. More on the Democratic Party train wreck, for the entertainment of our host and the Commentariat:

    Now that it is becoming clear that the existing field of candidates all have serious liabilities and none of them stands a chance against Trump, Pravda on the Potomac (AKA Jeff Bezos’ Blog, AKA The Washington Post) is starting to tout New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg as the Democrat’s “dream candidate“.

    Of course, Bloomberg is trying his level best to prove it is possible for a billionaire to buy the presidency lock, stock and barrel, which is unlikely go over well with many voters, including left wing Democrats. Already, the long knives have started coming out. There have been lots of stories all over the internet and the news media recently about Bloomberg’s hiring social media “influencers” to say nice things about him and try to make him “look cool” on Faceplant, Twatter, Instafake and other social media sites for $150 per approved post. It’s already turning into an acute embarrassment for Bloomberg. A lot of the harshest criticism has come from left wing news sites.

    But even funnier is this post from The Intercept, a leading leftist news aggregator site, accusing Bloomberg of plagiarism. Some of you may remember that it was a plagiarism scandal that sank Joe Biden’s first presidential run back in 1987. I am reminded of Karl Marx’s famous observation that history sometimes repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Even Trump is getting into the game, taunting Democrats by saying they should go ahead and make Bloomberg their nominee.

    Popcorn stocks might be a very good thing to invest in right now…

  194. @JMG,

    Indeed I’m in the process of “walking away” but I’m also a sole family breadwinner so it has to be methodical. The key in this first stage is to turn down managerial promotions and other such incentives that tie me to the office. “I very much appreciate the recognition but I think I’m best in an individual contributor role” is the diplomatic way to put it without looking like a slacker.

    At the same time I’m trying to build multiple income streams (rental properties, primarily) and reduce expenses. I do still enjoy software engineering (and would do it for my own pleasure even if I wasn’t paid) but I’d just like it to be more of a straightforward freelance gig that allows me the time and energy for creative pursuits.

    How do you make ends meet? You must have some hard-earned wisdom about living adjacent to – but not in – the Matrix all these years.

  195. Hi JMG

    I have found the trends in unemployment by educational attainment from Jan 2000 to Jan 2020, this coud be useful to analyse if currently there is a shift in employment:

    a) For “Less than high school diploma” group, it seems that the decrease in unemployment has stopped in oct-17 up to today. It was decreasing with a good rate from 2010 when it was at more than 15%, and now is around 5,5%, but, as I said, without significant changes in the last 2 years.

    b) The group of “High school graduates, no college” the unemployment was decreasing in all the period from 2010, but the curve now is flat from Nov-18, Now the rate is 3,7%.

    c) For the group “Some college or associate degree” the slope of the unemployment curve is still decreasing, the value now is 2,8%, you have to go to 20 years ago to see such low value, in May-2000.

    d) For the group “Bachelor’s degree and higher” the curve is quite flat but still decreasing, the rate of unemployment is 1,9%, the last so low value was in oct-2006.

    You can see the graph with the trends here (I do not know how to attach a picture in a comment):

    I canno see clearly a big change in any groups; the trends seems to be quite similar before and with Trump, and from 1 year all of them are more or less flat. May be the geographical distribution is what have changed more.

    I think it will be very hard to US to have again a powerful manufacturing sector that rise middle wages/qualification, because USA is the provider of global liquidity due to the US$ as reserve currency, similar to what happened to the Spanish Empire at the end of XVI and XVII century after the arrival of huge amounts of silver from the New World, when it became the currency (liquidity) source of the world (even for China), and then the internal prices skyrocketed compare to the prices in other places of Europe, notably Netherland, England, France, etc…and the industrial base of Spain sank down; and people then had to work in the Imperial Service sector: army, government, finance, leisure and entertainment (waiters, etc…), exactly as now in the US. After some decades, the Spanish Empire ceased to be hegemonic and started a clear decline (even if could maintain almost all the American colonies up to 1820 and the rest up to 1898).

    It is very difficult to be and Empire, maintaining the global reserve currency, and at the same time to have a trade balance; this could be made before the end of the gold reserve and before the security accords with KSA and other Gulf State in the beginning of 1970’s that was when the US$ became what it is now. From that period the fate of the powerful american manufacturing industries was sealed, with that decline even accelerating with the passing time (you have only to see the Boeing “affair” with the 737 Max). But if you cannot made good cars, good electronic products, good planes, you cannot also do good tanks, good fighters, good destroyers, have a good navy’s transport fleet, etc… making the Empire closer to his end. This is the normal cycle of modern empires.

    As Matthias Gralle suggests I will try to find the recent trends in life expectancy and “desperate deaths” statistics just to see if we can find significant changes in them


  196. JMG: I haven’t read all the comments, has anyone discussed the effect of air pollution in China on the vulnerability to this bug?

  197. @JMG
    Yeah, I do know the reputation of the ladies with the “I’d like to speak to your manager” haircuts. When, as a member of the lower middle class 20+ years ago (before unexpectedly being “boosted” a couple of income strata or so by marriage), I worked in the same service, retail, and restaurant industries you mentioned, I don’t recall “the ladies who lunch” seeming any worse as customers than any other slice of society; people in general seemed just like a mixed bag. Times may have changed the behavior, of course, and these days I don’t actually hang out with the group in question, finding more in common with people who grew up more like myself. Still, I rub shoulders with plenty of these folks in the course of various activities, and there is an astonishing degree of self-absorption displayed for sure, but from my perspective it looks like self-policing. They feel constantly on display, constantly under scrutiny, always supposed to be doing something deemed worthwhile… it seems very pinched and anxious over there. (I do trust you noted the irony in my description of the “pain” they experience in exchange for an appearance of perfection.) It’s too bad that it manifests in obnoxious behavior. But I have to say, there’s an awful lot of obnoxious behavior going around in American culture in all kinds of circles these days, from all sorts of people who ought to know better. I think those upper class ladies just have the leverage to inflict their obnoxiousness on others more “effectively” than those without the disposable income to receive anxious attention from retail managers. But I could be wrong. Maybe they really are hellspawn in yoga pants. 😉

    —Heather in CA

  198. I don’t know whether to take this new race baiting and racism seriously. When I say racism, I am not pointing to white people but rather to the open season upon them and the hideous idea that only white people can be racist.
    In fact, a certain amount of racism or ethnocentrism is probably natural to humans, i.e., one is more wary of people who aren’t in your own culture. Racism has been around a long time, as has slavery. Most peoples have engaged in slavery, including black people and even occasionally black people in America have owned slaves. Many, many white people have been enslaved. I don’t know if another people or culture ever decided that it was wrong and fought against it and eliminated it before American and European whites did. For that, they have reason to be proud.
    All sorts of nonsense gets called racist. To me, racism or ‘prejudice’ involves a negative evaluation of someone based on their race, or a negative evaluation of a whole group because of their race. Merely noting that some people are different to one another does not constitute racism. How nicknaming an epidemic after its city of origin can be called racist is beyond my ken.
    Even the phrase POC is dangerous because it encourages racism. After all, who is not POC? Everyone is POC except white Europeanoid types. I wouldn’t worry if it weren’t for me finding out that in college kids are being taught racism and race hatred. I encountered two such new graduates last year and their race hatred toward whites was shocking to me. And the male cried about discrimination even while his demographic is the most well off in the USA and his parents are well off and he had the privilege to go to college (I didn’t). The female identified as POC of Aztec extraction. Aztec! You know, the ones who went to war and took human slaves for the purpose of human sacrifice.
    It saddens me greatly as I think Americans were doing admirably well in overcoming their racism, whites more than blacks but that would resolve too in time. And all in a live and let live fashion, which is American.
    Perhaps all this race sensitivity is really about having flogging points with which to berate and persecute people. It doesn’t need to be analyzed to death, and having the slightest inward preference for one’s own race is not something noticeable in public life. What matters is that discrimination is illegal and that all races are treated fairly and politely in public life.

    And all of this involves pretense about things which really matter. In the case of blacks (and also but less so of whites) it is that their family structure has broken which means their culture is broken. How did this happen and how can it be healed? Of course there is the occasional woman who does a bangup job as a single mother. But the statistics are awful. And it isn’t a matter for political correctness. As a person who watches and watches nature flicks, every animal has a family structure. Birds, for example, have consistently the most involved fathers overall. Others less so but still there is a family structure that holds. It isn’t optional. Children need fathers as well as mothers, and probably more relatives as well.

  199. @Lady Cutekitten: “Helped destroy a society in less than a century” sounds rather heavier than the retail tantrums JMG and I mentioned. Are you thinking of the dangerously clueless do-gooder meddling like SarahJ mentioned above? Or intensely voracious consumerism? I need to know what to guard my back against when surrounded by the enemy.

    (I should not be so flip. This is obviously a serious matter, and as one who can “pass” as a white upper class educated woman, I’m evidently not in the groups most at risk from their destructive behavior. I’m trying to understand, but my grasp on the social world around us is limited by my liberal over-education, despite soaking up the community here for a decade or so.)

    Thanks in advance for any clues you can offer.
    —Heather in CA

  200. @ Phil Knight, & JMG:
    I just checked the article about Trump apparently ordering new federal buildings to be built in a neoclassical style.
    Exactly as detailed in this essay, the very next day, they had a panicked editorial on the dangers of dictators who mandate styles, and why the neoclassical style, in particular, is bad, downright evil, in fact. They even had the phrase “architectural styles should be left to architects.”
    My supposition is that the neoclassical style is one that reflects (and promotes) a culture of dignity, whereas the random-confusion style of most ugly modern buildings reflects the inherent confusion and contradictions of our current culture of victim-hood.


  201. Good morning from Beijing Capital Airport, where I’m waiting for one of the few remaining flights out of China. A few days ago, Her Majesty’s Government told us Brits to get out if we could. My employers concurred, and so here I am, wondering what hit me. I have nowhere to go, but I’m booked into a hotel for a few days and will figure something out. I have money in the bank, but I know how quickly that can be used up.

    I’ve read about go-bags, of course, but it’s been interesting to have to decide what to take. Clothes for a week.Education certificates, driver’s license, birth certificate. A couple of my most precious old books, including my original copy of Dosparth Edeyrn Tafod Aur. Icons and a couple of statues from my home altar. and my divination tools, including my disintegrating but heavily annotated copy of your own Coelbren book 🙂

    It’s been very hard to get a real picture of what’s happening with the coronavirus. Beijing generally is actually pretty safe, I think. It will, eventually, all pass. I’m not like the poor unfortunates who’ve lost everything in the fires in Australia or California; I should be able to go back and get the rest of my possessions. Even so, when I do go back, I don’t think it will be to the same China; between the trade war, the economic slowdown, and now popular dissatisfaction with the way this has been handled, something has changed. The death of Li Wenliang has shaken the country; no idea how that’s going to work out.

    Something is in the air. I have a very uneasy feeling.

    Let’s be more cheerful! I was interested to see Phil H. talk about Owain Glyndwr’s old Parliament building in Machynlleth! I have actually been thinking about buying a house back in Wales, and was looking at Machynlleth as a possible base. Not enough jobs there, though. There are a number of 16th-century (I think) cottages that are still occupied there. One was on the market until just a few days ago. Nice, elegant little homes, full of character (but probably in great need of Green Wizard-style weatherizing!

  202. JMG, do shoggoths poop, and, if so, what do they use: a toilet, of either kind, a litter box, or the yard?

    If they use toilets they may replace dogs as man’s best friend! Breathes there an owner with soul so dead, who never to the pup has said “Will you hurry up? You’ve been sniffing around out here for 20 minutes and it’s POURING!”

  203. JMG,

    “Onething, the problem with that claim is that vernacular architecture around the world, designed and built by ordinary people without benefit of archtectural theory, is routinely both cheap and attractive, ”

    I hope you’re right and I look forward to the discussion. Still, if you read through the article by Drop Bear, there are pictures of extremely ornate old buildings and I find it hard to believe that those are not expensive to create.

  204. @JMG, well I suppose the UK bunch are a mixture of motivations in the usual way, ‘all tax bad’ would be an easy trap to fall into. Would that be Tax Derangement Syndrome do you think?
    Your blog post has made me think about how future historians might characterise the current situation. They probably are not going to have a lot of evidence – like the discussions here, there’s not a lot of actual paper generated for them to look at. If they do happen across an accidentally preserved stash of print outs I wonder if the size and complexity of our rules and laws might raise eyebrows. The NY Post article talks about the number of lawyers and accountants in the UK, a very good proxy for the mess we are in.
    I guess that most of those laws and rules will still be officially in force long after the scary Club of Rome graph has completely removed their ability to enforce or benefit by them. People who live through the downward slope will have to spend a lot of time judging what stupid or inappropriate laws they can ignore given the situation they are in.
    A small example. I’m thinking that there may be a low number of chickens in my future. I’ve discovered that if I did have a few chickens it would be completely illegal for me to feed them on kitchen scraps, hefty fines can be applied to violators.
    There’s plausible (albeit unexplained) reasons for this, preventing cross contamination of meat. However, it’s not a rule I can see that a central government could enforce on thousands of households when those households do not see a, chicken inspector? from one decade to the next.

  205. @OneThing

    “But before medical care costs bankrupt this nation all by themselves, let’s ask the real question: Why do rabies shots cost thousands of dollars?”

    That, too, is an excellent question. I understand medical treatments that are blood plasma products, such as antivenins for snakebite, and rabies vaccines (which, while they’re no longer 24 shots in the abdomen, are still pretty involved– 7 shots total for HM, in four installments), tend to cost more because they’re not mass-produced in the same way as most drugs. They have to recruit human plasma donors, inoculate them, and then draw their blood and extract parts of it, to make the vaccine (for antivenins they use horses). So it’s going to be expensive because it’s a pretty involved process. On the other hand… It cost about one fourth as much just ten years ago. So I expect the additional money is due to increased expenditures on hookers and blow, gold toilet seats, champagne fountains, etc. back at drug company HQ. But I could be mistaken.

    @ The architecture discussion

    Hello from the humid subtropics, where absolutely nothing about modern architecture actually works for anyone. In the last several months, my hometown demolished its 60s-vintage, very modern, terazzo-glass-steel-and-concrete City Hall and Public Library buildings. People cheered. If you’d been able to round up the original architects, put them in a dunking booth full of sewage, and charge $10 a throw for a chance to dunk them, you could have made a fortune from former employees in those buildings.

    The City Hall, at least, wasn’t even *that* ugly, all things considered. But if you put up that much glass, in this climate, what you get isn’t a building. It’s a solar oven. That’s also a problem with big concrete walls. The thermal mass is great in cool climates, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it into the building at night. Here: it’s an oven. Combine that with a big open atrium, and a single ventilation system, and you have north-side offices at a constant 50 degrees, while the south and west sides are lucky to get down to 80.

    The thermal mass effect of concrete works in reverse when weather goes from cool to hot (and here, it does that almost daily, in the winter months)– the concrete cools at night, and then stays cool while the air gets warmer. Condensation drips down the walls… followed quickly by mildew (it’s humid here!). It’s fine as long as the A/C is in tip-top shape and never, ever breaks, or gets turned off, or suffers a power outage… once you’ve got mildew on concrete walls, you never completely get rid of it.

    And then, there are the flat roofs. I’m sure they’re great in the desert. We average 60+ inches of rain/year, often in whopping downpours where 1-3 inches falls in a couple hours (and in a tropical weather system, we can get up to 20 inches in a day!). Flat roofs… you’re lucky if they don’t leak in year 1. Once a building is 10 or 20 years old, it’s hopeless. We have a host of 60s-era buildings, designed to look very cool and low-profile, with peaked roofs awkwardly slapped on top after no amount of blackjack could keep the rain out.

    In the last 10-ish years, local vernacular architecture has been making a comeback. Most of the new public buildings are sporting a light pastel stucco over a ton of insulation, peaked metal roofs in white, silver, or turquoise, and a refreshing absence of giant glass walls. They’re not beautiful, but theyr’e at least functional– our new library has its single large window on the north side of the building (the old library had a west-facing periodicals room that was like a sauna, and all the south-facing windows in the librarians’ offices had been papered up from the inside in self-defense– the librarians must’ve had a say in the design). It still has lovely natural lighting from the narrow horizontal windows running along the tops of the walls. The new subdivisions are (finally!) moving away from the 90s silliness with 15 rooflines and 4 different wall textures, and now they’re all trying to look like beach houses from Seaside (if you’ve ever watched The Truman Show– that was Seaside)– boring but practical. About the only things that make houses livable in this climate are high ceilings, big wide porches, and off-the-ground wood construction. It can be done beautifully, and I’m full of hope that we will, gradually, figure it out again. The very nicest houses here are not the ones with stylish details. They’re the ones with shade trees. Those take time to install.

  206. I am pleased, if slightly surprised to find that other people really care about beauty and ugliness. Aesthetics have always been very important to me and yet I am used to being a kind of loner in this world. My feeling about the older architecture versus what we have to live with has been a forlorn and wistful longing. I thought it was another of my peculiarities. And yet, I have also become rather recently aware, due to my watching of various documentaries, how truly, stunningly beautiful architecture is around the world so it must be a kind of human norm! This makes me like humanity better!
    So now I just add ugly architecture to a short list of modern bleakness – the way that belief in anything beyond the material is to be a private secret rather like one’s privates and while widely acknowledged, must never actually be taken into consideration in any public or official way. Another is the idea from evolution theory (and this is not necessary) that all life and therefore we, are purposeless and meaningless, not arising from a divine and magnificent cosmos.
    It deadens the spirit and idealism.

  207. Heather C. Asks:

    “Are you thinking of the dangerously clueless…or [of] insanely voracious consumerism?”


  208. Your Kittenship, excellent! I’m glad other people are using that rejoinder.

    Steve, so you’re suggesting that somebody has a lot of antivirals they want to unload? I could believe it.

    David, the Republic is a magnificently ambiguous book, and one that I’ve studied closely for decades. The history of its competing understandings and/or misunderstandings makes up a big chunk of the entire history of Western political thought. Yet it remains true that if you chase the origins of the idea of totalitarian rulership by an intellectual elite to their origins, you inevitably find somebody quoting Plato. A misunderstanding? If so, an extraordinarily influential one.

    Jacurutu, I’ve been watching that with a great deal of amusement, I think a lot of Democrats have realized that none of their current crop of candidates has a reasonable chance against Trump at this point, and they’ll spend all this year frantically casting around for someone else. Meanwhile, anybody who has the brains the gods gave geese is refusing to run, because if they’ve got that much in the way of intellect they know what they’re up against and are planning on 2024 instead. Popcorn indeed!

    Brian, I had the great advantage of learning to be comfortably poor early on, so I didn’t need anything like as much money as most people with my background think they need. The name of the game for me, though, has always been (a) multiple income streams that (b) don’t depend on an employer or other middleman, but rather (c) provide actual people with actual goods and services they actually want. Oh, and (d) always, but always, ignore the standard rules about What People Want — everyone else is already providing that. Give people something no one else is offering them, and see if you can find enough takers to make it worthwhile.

    DFC, interesting. That breakdown is hard to square with a lot of other numbers these days. Still, as time and circumstances permit I’ll take a look.

    Michael, no, and that’s a point worth looking into.

    Heather, there may also be regional factors. I was last in a position to have to put up with such things in Seattle, and the local elite culture may have encouraged bad behavior from that demographic. It was a familiar reality to everyone I knew in the service sector, though — to the extent that when you got a customer from that demographic who was pleasant, undemanding, and left a good tip, everyone talked about it (and she got stellar service when she came back).

    Onething, I really think that in some circles, at least, the word “racist” has become an all-purpose insult that means nothing more than “I hate you.”

    Renaissance, of course! The entire mentality of the mainstream architectural world these days revolves around the fantasy that the people who design buildings should be allowed to make whatever creative statement they want, even — or especially — if the result is sickeningly ugly and does a lousy job of serving the function it was supposed to serve. Architecture has had its golden ages in eras when an architect who thought that way was lucky not to end up with his head on the end of a pike. Of course they’re going to object to the return of creative control to the clients — but that return is necessary if we’re to see a less hideously dysfunctional architecture emerge.

    Bogatyr, glad to hear you’re getting out. May I offer a suggestion? Nobody I know who works for someone else is really thriving in today’s economy. You don’t prosper by getting a job, you prosper by finding some way to offer goods and/or services directly to people who want or need them, using the internet if that’s convenient and other modes if those are more useful. If you can do that, Machynlleth is as good as anyplace else.

    Your Kittenship, no, shoggoths don’t poop. They’re an artificially created life form, engineered by the Elder Things back in the early Paleozoic, and their digestive systems are designed for complete combustion of foodstuffs — all they excrete is carbon dioxide, water vapor, and very small amounts of complex aromatic compounds containing unneeded trace minerals; that’s why under ordinary conditions, you know a shoggoth’s in residence because there’s a faint pleasant smell not unlike Brie cheese. You don’t need to clean up after them — quite the contrary, they clean up very efficiently, ingesting dust, cobwebs, centipedes (yum!), or anything else organic that needs to be gotten rid of. 😉

    Onething, not all architectural beauty requires that level of ornateness. We’ll discuss that in more detail as we proceed.

    Andy, many of those regulations were put into place to force people to depend on giant corporate structures instead of meeting their own needs. That’s why a massive pruning of regulations is such an important part of the populist agenda. The Trump administration has been encouraging people to submit ideas for improving the country — a lot of which involve the removal of intrusive regulations of that kind; I hope BoJo has the common sense to copy that, and act accordingly.

    Methylethyl, thanks for this. The whole concept that architectural styles should depend on local conditions was thrown out by the Uglicist movement early on, with exactly the results you’ve described. Flat roofs in Seattle, where it always rains! Big north-facing windows in cold climates, and big south-facing windows in hot climates! There literally isn’t a stupidity of that kind that architects haven’t wallowed in. This is why creative control over building needs to revert to clients and end users, who have to live with the building, and taken out of the hands of architects, who go their merry way leaving dysfunctional eyesores behind them like a collection of oversized glass and metal turds.

  209. Some women of the wealthy, white ilk are complete “I want to see your manager” Karen types but many are not from my experience, and they cannot possibly receive all the credit for destroying society. All the generations, including doddering Silents, whiny Millennials and shiftless Gen Xers had our roles in the still-unfolding demolition drama. The ladies I lunched with are genuinely kind, compulsively give their wealth away to charity, and one is the person who helped me rescue the cats for those of you following JMG’s Magic Monday blog. I emphatically could not have done it without her — she was literally throwing heavy furniture around that day right along side me and she’s almost 70.

    If we want to make sweeping generalizations, I’d pin most older, white, wealthy liberal women as living lives of quiet desperation. Now that the children are grown or almost grown, they find themselves in free fall, engaged in a maddening search for a type of gratification that can’t be had via the methods they are using to get it. We humans need our lives to have meaning and the white, liberal lady who lunches has never possessed the faintest clue about subjects of any depth besides her own wealthy white guilt is in for a rough old age. The Ladies Who Lunch have been robbed of their earthiness and pragmatic, crone skills by a string of generations addicted to convenience at any cost. They’ve spent their lives distracted by mental minutiae and now that becomes their legacy, aging princesses sitting atop a creaking hoard of junk and empty rooms. Remember that Jethro Tull song, Pussy Willow?

    She longs for the East and a pale dress flowing
    An apartment in old Mayfair.
    Or to fish the Spey, spinning the first run of Spring
    Or to die for a cause somewhere.

    She got her posh apartment but her dreams were cut down to size anyway.

  210. Regarding the coronavirus:
    The numbers I’ve looked at, through the W.H.O., indicate to me a couple of concerns.
    Unknown means of transmission, probably airborne. Unknown exposure/infection rate. As of today, there are 34,887 confirmed cases with symptoms. Of those who no longer have the virus, 724 are dead, 2,076 recovered — which gives about a 35% death rate at the moment. It was well over 50% a couple of weeks back.
    It appears that during the incubation period, a person without symptoms is apparently infectious.
    So, I’d say, more than a little serious.
    But… almost all the deaths are in Wuhan, which is where the initial infection was reported, most of the sick are there, and it suggests to me that the numbers overwhelmed the sickness-management system there. Everywhere else has been able to cope with the numbers, at least so far, and no deaths outside China.

    For comparison, the W.H.O. estimates 7.5 Million people in North America got sick from the ‘flu in 2019, of whom 61,000 died, which gives it a mortality rate of 0.008% — this was a bad year for the ‘flu.

    Of course, I’ll freely admit that these numbers may be complete fantasies, and if someone could point me to a ‘good’ set of numbers from an alternate, more credible source, I’d be very thankful, but right now, these are the values from the W.H.O.

    As for the news freakout… well, I’ve noticed that not once have I heard from any news outlet what the recovery rate is, only the number of infections and the number of dead. No indication that more people have recovered than died, no statement anywhere about what the death/survival rate is. So that suggests fear-mongering. But I don’t think it is deliberate, because I don’t give them that much credit, because…
    The second thing I’ve noticed is the politicians and social-justice-advocates are now actively chiding people about racist behaviour towards Chinese people. (Here is my Capt. Renault face upon discovering that there is gambling going on in the Cafe Ameriaine) The mainstream media have basically been creating exactly that kind of association that all good advertising and propaganda has done since the invention of the printing press: China – virus – China – virus – China – virus, all the people in Canada and outside China who got sick are Chinese, and guess what? People now associate Chinese people with the virus! Wow! Who could have guessed? The intelligentsia who run the news sources never saw that one coming. They might have explained things differently, but they didn’t. And these are the smart, educated elite. OK, snark aside, I do remember when news sources were more comprehensive in their reporting, exactly the sort you described in Lakeland.

  211. JMG,

    I am really looking forward to reading your upcoming posts on architecture. I have been hoping that your recent work on sacred geometry might lead in the direction of a more humane architecture, too. Any chance that your upcoming Sacred Geometry book will have that sort of application?

    One other note on the Sussman book: apparently psychological experiments have been done where strangers are asked for a small favor, such as help finding a dropped key. In front of modern buildings, people are far less likely to offer help than in front of traditional buildings. Sounds like a change in consciousness in accordance with…I’m sorry, I don’t know which ghastly Lovecraftian horror applies here.

  212. Violet, I share your feelings about ugly architecture. It all began with the Bauhaus in the Twenties. In Europe, there was another factor: the destructions of the Second World War provided something of a clean slate, on which architects could live out their brutalist dreams. This was especially pronounced in Eastern bloc countries. And then there is the kind of city planning which one can encounter in cities like Brasilia and Pyongyang. It is not only buildings, but the layout of whole cities, which discourage community, vitality and human scale.

  213. From the “actions have consequences” dept, post-impeachment edition:

    Its been reported that among the Hunter Biden documents that the Treasury Department delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee were a number of Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR’s). SAR’s are reports that banks and other financial institutions are required to file with government regulators if they observe suspicious financial activities by clients or others they do business with, such as possible money laundering, fraud or tax evasion.

    It has also been rumored that the first wave of indictments from US Attorney John Durham’s investigation are likely to be announced in late June or early July. It just so happens the Democratic National Convention is in mid July…

    This is going to be fun to watch. It ought to be one helluva fireworks show.

  214. As consensus reality diverges more and more widely from what many people are actually experiencing (that is, if they are paying attention) I expect the frustration of those that still cling to “consensus” is going to rise. I already see it with my family and friends.

  215. Hi John Michael,

    Great to have you back blogging away. Hope you had an enjoyable break – and without even asking you, I’d be more or less certain that you were incredibly productive during the time. 🙂 Some DNA is hard to shake off, and anyway life is short, and I hear you! Hehe!

    All is good here, although today is incredibly smokey due to the bonkers fires over in the east of the state, and also those along the coast north of there. Most people expect a big fire where I live, but I never really expected to see fires in that far east coast of the state – and to such an extent. Crazy stuff.

    Hmm, experts to my mind often only know a limited specialty of knowledge which is limited to a particular field of endeavour. And even then, they make mistakes, get things wrong and speak outside their particular field. And sometimes I reckon specialising in a field blinds such people to the larger picture that their field exists within. I mean I really struggle trying to talk to people about my experiences with renewable energy, if only because other people tend to view the technology within their own desires. And experts are no less biased. I dunno, it all makes little sense to me?

    Oh yeah, MSG gives me headaches, as it dehydrates me and raises my blood pressure. I don’t add it to my own food, most of which is made from scratch and raw materials. But elsewhere I have no control over what is being added to the food I consume, so I just try and make peace with the side effects. I also acknowledge that whilst the stuff gives me unpleasant side effects, it probably won’t kill me.

    Have I ever mentioned to you the craziness that is getting an unwanted dog from the pound? It smacks of the sort of managerial mischief that you were speaking about. Now, years ago all I had to do was go down to the pound and meet the dogs and just go, yeah that one will be fine. The pound staff neutered the dog (often already done) and the dog and I would go off on our merry way. Nowadays and in these enlightened times, there are requests to bring my other dogs – to the dog pound of all places – to meet the new dog. As if my other dogs wouldn’t be stressed out of their heads by that experience. There was even one place recently that asked for so much personal information I thought that they were probably making money selling off peoples identities (needless to say I told them to go stick it).

    What was really weird was when I picked up my latest dog two years ago, they offered me free doggie psychology phone counselling. I was thinking to myself that the dog looked ok, and seemed ok, whilst acknowledging that some folks trained such dogs to hunt pigs. And the dog has been the most pleasant natured dog that I have ever known. He’s a real charmer, and possibly more charming than myself. He has possibly lifted the average charm factor of the household! 🙂

    Anyway, what was really sad about the whole experience of them treating me as if I’d never encountered a dog before – and by implication that I don’t know nuffin – was that they were under feeding him so badly that he had learned to eat his own excrement. Needless to say that problem was easily sorted out. Their problems, maybe not so easily sorted.



  216. Hi John Michael,

    As to the novel coronavirus, I believe that there are no antivirals that will be effective on what is a disease that looks to produce viral pneumonia. It would be a very unpleasant experience – and possibly fatal if you had a pre-existing medical condition. But as you say, statistics are hard to come by.

    Twice now in my life I have had bouts of the infleunza virus. Yeah, not good and I’m not keen to repeat the experience. I heard a statistic from a reliable source that in your country apparently something like 6,000 deaths have already occurred from this seasons influenza outbreak.


  217. On the mess in Iowa: a friend of mine notes: “That app was courtesy of a Millennial.” I note: “Newer =! Better!”

  218. It seems to me that the signs, at least this early on, point to another Trump victory in November, but yesterday I read an article from Politico that shakes that idea up a bit.

    “(Rachel) Bitecofer, a 42-year-old professor at Christopher Newport University in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, was little known in the extremely online, extremely male-dominated world of political forecasting until November 2018. That’s when she nailed almost to the number the nature and size of the Democrats’ win in the House, even as other forecasters went wobbly in the race’s final days. Not only that, but she put out her forecast back in July, and then stuck by it while polling shifted throughout the summer and fall.

    And today her model tells her the Democrats are a near lock for the presidency in 2020, and are likely to gain House seats and have a decent shot at retaking the Senate.”

    In the article, Bitecofer’s methodology is explained in some detail. Sure, she can be wrong just like all the other prognosticators have been, but her impressive work in 2018 gives pause.

  219. @Methylethyl: ***Lake House, here I live (do a search on The Village at Gainesville) is concrete, but at least not naked concrete. That material was chosen to make it hurricane-proof. Big bubbles of water condensation are the first thing I see on my windows in winter – I’m still looking at them, 4 hours after I got up. The stretches of windows in the public areas have decorative “drapes” that don’t close and are just for pretty, but every window has blinds. However, the windows do make the place livable. They lie along the Southwest wall. I have to pull the blinds in the afternoon or be blinded by the sun. **

    What town do you live in? And if you want to see the ugliest building in Gainesville, run a search on Early Learning Center, Gainesville, FL. But most building is in the classic Southern style, and we do have a very nice front porch in Lake House.

  220. JMG (sorry for putting JMJ last time – that’s probably a cleaning product or something!)
    I can assure you the last thing I wish for is an apocalypse. But you must concede any far reaching pretty serious virus will likely change the global landscape quite a lot. Just look at world tourism – certainly less MSG on big boats in future. One of ’em jolts down in-between the less steep descent sections. For a fair many it’ll be quite a jolt I suspect.

  221. JMG, a last comment about the situation in Thuringia: I didn’t think the whole affair with the AfD votes for Kemmerich would cause such a stir. Maybe the lunar eclipse chart has something to do with it. And about the Raging Twenties: I think the questions which the intersection of resource decline on the one hand and the innermost, most cherished assumptions of the modern Western world on the other hand will pose to the modern world will be quite profound and earth-shattering. I think of such ideas like the modern attitude towards internationalism, openness, pacifism; and furthermore, the problem will pose itself to evaluate which values are more important.

  222. “@ Phil Knight, & JMG:
    I just checked the article about Trump apparently ordering new federal buildings to be built in a neoclassical style.
    Exactly as detailed in this essay, the very next day, they had a panicked editorial on the dangers of dictators who mandate styles, and why the neoclassical style, in particular, is bad, downright evil, in fact. They even had the phrase “architectural styles should be left to architects.”
    My supposition is that the neoclassical style is one that reflects (and promotes) a culture of dignity, whereas the random-confusion style of most ugly modern buildings reflects the inherent confusion and contradictions of our current culture of victim-hood.


    As James Howard Kunstler said in one of his video lectures, the new buildings are designed to inflict aesthetic and even moral pain, and/or to make you feel like a termite. Humans are, to a greater degree than they like to think, dependent on their surroundings for their emotional and even intellectual life. It’s like a feedback loop. It doesn’t mean we are determined in a purely reductionistic way (obviously) since the invisible world is also part of our context, more subtly, but there is certainly a symbiotic relationship between humanity and its environment, even shaped environment. Check out the “Eyesores of the Month” from Kunstler on his blog, it’s illuminating. Thanks for the fact check verification, Bruce, since there are feedback loops involved in those who don’t want change, either.

  223. Dear JMG,

    You’re very welcome! To my mind architecture proves very magical stuff. I seriously wonder to what degree the crisis of legitimacy in the United States derives, in part at least, from the bizarre habit of governing institutions favoring extremely dehumanizing architecture. That is, how much did the Experts curse themselves by favoring this horrific sort of building plan? President Trump’s executive order returning to classical architecture for federal buildings seems to me, likewise, a magical act that inheres with his basically populist stance of listening to people and giving them at least some of what they actually want. He invokes the beauty of the classical styles that the Founding Fathers of this country favored when they invoked the ancient governments of the ancient world.

    What, then, does Uglicist Architecture invoke? I can only imagine, nothing good. Perhaps we can see in the harsh, deliberately ugly, non-utilitarian, non-pragmatic, willfully anti-human, a great Negation, and that Negation seems to me inextricably entwined with the false god of Progress. Uglicist Architecture may serve as Temples to Progress and, in the face of that, “Make Federal Building Beautiful Again” strikes me as an exceedingly attractive proposition. I infinitely prefer the older style of temple architecture, thank you very much!

  224. I know you don’t watch TV, John. I’ve quit watching it myself. There was a TV series that devoted a whole season of episodes to the loss of blue collar jobs in the US and the social consequences. It did a very impressive job. Yes, I’m referring to Season 2 of “The Wire.”

  225. Hi Chris at Fernglade,

    I’ve read other articles about the “dog moms.” A while back, during the Ellen DeGeneris dog kerfuffle, there was a LONG article on (of all places) about the problem.

    Hi Kimberly,

    10 points for the Ladies Who Lunch! (Fair’s fair.)

  226. Hi JMG,

    I’m looking forward to reading your posts on modern architecture. I share your perspective on it, as you might imagine. Thinking about it brings up something related that I’ve been meaning to mention for a while. It’s more of a Magic Monday topic, and I’ve been planning to go into detail there, but it may make sense here, too.

    This summer I did two things which won’t sound, at first, like they had anything to do with one another. The first is that I picked up one of Aidan Meehan’s works on Celtic design ( The second was that I re-watched Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. Also, and at the same time, a friend of a friend became famous in the LA art world, and I saw some of her paintings.

    How do these three fit together?

    First, Celtic design. Meehan’s book begins by teaching you very, very simple tile designs, which anyone can learn. I found that by playing around with it, and using other very simple techniques I’ve learned from books on magic by yourself and others, I was quickly able to create images which were 1. beautiful and 2. magically efficacious. By the latter, I mean that they produced an immediate effect upon the consciousness when looking at them. It was clear that there was an enormous amount of potential for incorporating sacred geometry, symbols related to elements, planets, sephiroth, deities, and so on, into designs using traditional techniques. Again, these techniques progress from the simple to the more complex, but possess beauty and a connection to higher realities from the beginning.

    Now it was at this time that the friend-of-a-friend became famous, and I saw a number of her pieces of “art” on social media. I’ve heard that this now-famous artist once struggled with addiction and so on, and I don’t begrudge her her success. However, it has to be said that her paintings were simply hideous. They followed no rule whatsoever, and instead looked like random collections of colors, all clashing with one another. To say as much, of course, would be to admit that you don’t “get it” and therefore to be on the outside in the art community. Because no part of me cares about ingratiating myself to that community, I happily said that I did not get it, because there is nothing to get, and the elevating of this kind of mental vomit as “art” is stupid and destructive.

    Final thing: Lord of the Rings. In the second film, there are scenes that cut back and forth between the elves in Rivendell and the Rohirim in Rohan. The scenes with the elves are boring and insipid, but the scenes in Rohan feel more inspired, and inspiring. I’ve always felt this way. But why? This time I finally got it. The aesthetic of Rohan was based on actual old Celtic and Anglo-Saxon designs. Since there are no real-life elves on which to base the aesthetic of Rivendell, the designers were free to be “creative.” The results are obvious. During one of the Rivendell scenes, we see a tapestry depicting the To White Trees out of Tolkien’s legendarium. The tapestry looks like it was purchased at one of those cheesy “Celtic” shops one finds (or used to find) in shopping malls in the 1990s. The film then cuts to Medusheld, and in the background one sees columns twined with Celtic-inspired knotwork. The knotwork is a copy of real-world Celtic design, which are based on universal principles, and not on individual “creativity.” Thus it has an actual beauty and an actual power, so that these scenes are effective, while the scenes in elf-land are boring.

    All of the foregoing applies to modern versus traditional architecture. I’ve also heard the arguments that beautiful things are somehow more difficult or expensive. I already assumed that the idea that they were more expensive was false. But my guess is that beautiful traditional buildings are also easier to create, as they can, if the analogy holds, be based on principles which are universal and easy to learn. The fact that it is available to anyone, and not lone Randian geniuses, is probably another reason modern architects hate traditional design.

  227. Chris,

    Well, there’s an “epidemic of obesity” among animals now, so drastic measures need to be taken! For the health of the animals, of course. I’ve watched my parents, who believe everything an “expert” says, try to put our cat on a diet for years, and have concluded he probably has a better idea of what he needs than the vets do. Of course, I’m also fairly sure he’d be thinner if he was allowed outside, but the experts have declared the outdoors to be too dangerous for cats.

    So your story of the dog pound starving their dogs sounds disturbingly plausible to me. In a lot of people’s minds there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as too little food….

  228. “David, the Republic is a magnificently ambiguous book, and one that I’ve studied closely for decades. The history of its competing understandings and/or misunderstandings makes up a big chunk of the entire history of Western political thought. Yet it remains true that if you chase the origins of the idea of totalitarian rulership by an intellectual elite to their origins, you inevitably find somebody quoting Plato. A misunderstanding? If so, an extraordinarily influential one”

    Absolutely agree… i would even say that this one work is the split off point where the west was created. !? In broad Jungian terms the Ego-inflated / ego-centric / individualism of the west began here. IMO because, the ego ,reading this book, is encouraged to identify with the class of Philosopher King, the ‘rational’ part of the soul. But the ego should not do this as the philospher king class is the higher self and the ego can not just identify with it, but only merge with it after much preparitory struggle and then on invitation only – like a river returning to the sea and being subsumed…(and this is easier when in the process of dying) 🙂

  229. Re my post just now re FiveThirtyEight

    I ought to have noted, too, that the current runner-up to with the nomination is: NO ONE.

    What a mess…

  230. I’m just going to drop this here – I’m pretty sure someone has linked to it in the past, but it bears repeating due to the nature of the discussion about human-scaled architecture…

    An excellent resource, including books – quoting from their website,

    “For millennia, artisans across a multitude of trades practiced a design language that united the skill of the hand with the imagination of the eye. Observing proportions in nature, especially in the human form itself, they quickly developed pleasing forms and flowing curves using only the simplest of tools: the compass and the straightedge.”

  231. Your Kittenship, if shoggoths actually existed, we’d have a lot in common. In fact, as readers of The Nyogtha Variations know, our species and theirs might be, like Rick Blaine and Louis Renault at the end of Casablanca, at “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Besides, humans and shoggoths are right around the bottom of the intelligence scale for sapient beings, so we have good reason to join forces!

    Michael, nah, it’s a classic case of extremists doubling down when they know they’re already losing. Look at the history of every failed social revolutionary movement and you can find equivalents. Dumb, sure, but very human.

    Kimberly, er, I don’t recall anyone saying that white women of the professional class were personally responsible for destroying society. I posted a snarky comment about those women paying $2500 a head to have dinner and be told how racist they are; Heather disagreed with me, and suggested that I was prejudiced; I agreed with her, noting that I was predisposed to snark by my experience in the restaurant and retail sectors — and those of many other people in those sectors — of professional class white women as the most likely customers to behave abusively toward those they see as their social inferiors. That’s not destroying society; it’s simply a bad habit common among groups of people whose status has risen sharply in the not too distant past. I equate it to the way that nouveaux-riches are so legendarily snotty toward servants and tradespeople, while people from old-money families are not.

  232. @ Brian and getting off the treadmill

    If you can pay off your debt, you’re halfway there. You may discover once you’re not servicing your debt that you don’t need to earn as much money.

    I highly recommend reading ‘The Complete Tightwad Gazette’ by Amy Dacyczyn. It’s not just ‘save money’ tips. She writes extensively on why you spend and are you getting what you want from spending. You can find a copy at virtually any library.

    Dave Ramsey has saved plenty of people too with the ‘debt snowball’ method.

    Vickie Robbins and Joe Dominguez wrote ‘Your Money or Your Life’. That’s a terrific book and again available at any library. Think of this equation: Money = Life Energy.

    Once you change your mindset as to clearly distinguishing between needs and wants, you don’t need as much money.

    That said, you’ve got to get the rest of the family on board. It won’t do your household any good if you’re using less if other family members are spending more.

    Teresa from Hershey

  233. Do you regard the “nouveaux-riches”, as you call them, to be an example of Turchin’s “elite overproduction” phenomenon.

    If so, it would explain why most major political figures in the “Great Compression” era were reflective of a small elite, positively patrician in their backgrounds and styles (FDR, Henry Wallace, The Kennedys, The Stevensons, George Romney, William Scranton, etc) ditto on the other side of the Atlantic (Churchill, Eden, MacMillian, Douglas-Hume, etc) by contrast to the more petty-bourgeoisie type that saw a return to laissez-faire-ism (Margaret Thatcher and Milton Freedman had small shopkeeper backgrounds).

    Here is a good book on the subject:

  234. @Michael Martin re: From Montreal – there were extreme separatists talking like that during the previous wave of feminism in the late 60s/70s. Most of us knew where they were coming from and it was never considered mainstream, but the thread was there and has probably never gone away. As a reaction to extreme trauma it is quite understandable, if not a prescription for more than a very few who want to live that way. My take: if that’s how they want to live, fine, doesn’t hurt me or mine in the least. Except for using taxpayers’ money to support it.

  235. JMG: of course I have Vitruvius. OTOH, I am the son-in law of an architect who proudly displayed in his office a picture of himself showing a model of a project to none other than Le Corbusier.

    It’s been interesting to read the reactions of all the bien pensants to the news that classical architecture may become the standard for new large federal projects. The uniform line is outrage that Mussolini’s favorite architecture was classical.. They seem to have forgotten that:
    1) the actual architecture commissioned by the Fascist government for the EUR (1942 World’s Fair) was a stripped down scaleless Rationalism.
    2) Most of the early promoters of Modern architecture were either enthusiastic supporters of Naziism (Philip Johnson) or attempted collaboration with both Nazi and Communist governments (Le Corbusier)
    3) The preferred government architecture for the United States was classical for near 200 years. It was chosen deliberately as a reflection of the Roman Republic. It’s only since the 1960s that the PMC has forced Uglicist architecture down our throats.

    Here in divine Providence, our two pre-eminent institutions of development of correct thought are vying for the title of owner of the Ugliest Building on College Hill™. Brown University, longtime holder with the Science Library (preferred location for student suicide!), recently lost the crown to RISD’s new North Dormitory. Not willing to take the loss in stride, the rendering for Brown’s new Performing Arts Center (now under construction) show every promise of their recapturing the title. (warning: only click on the link if you have a strong stomach: the animation is quite, well, forewarned….)

    Meanwhile, despite a massive outpouring of public outrage against it, our betters are insisting on pushing an oversized and overpriced luxury apartment tower on the edge of downtown. Following procedure, the legacy media decries all those of us who are against progress, with a long feature on a poor developer who only wants a couple extra stories on another ugly new building (not the 500’ oversized one). Do they mention the local developer who has renovated many older buildings downtown, and is building two new building in a style and scale that fits right in? (…crickets….)

    Not all modern architecture has to be ugly. Some Modern buildings can be quite lovely, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. The insistence that the Genius of the Architect must be obeyed above all else, however, is a subset of the insistence that because I have more education than you, I know what is good for you. It leads to the famous incident when Edgar Kaufman, owner of Fallingwater, cabled Wright to complain that the roof was leaking on the dining room table. Wright cabled back: “move the table.” If we don’t like the way the ugly building looks, or the way it works, or the way it treats us, we must be wrong.

    It’s not a little ironic that the Great Orange One should be the one promoting this. The first major project he did in Manhattan was a skinning of the Commodore Hotel, stripping the limestone and terra cotta facade and replacing it with mirrored glass. He followed that by demolishing the Bonwit Teller building and erecting Trump Tower.

    As the Sage Spengler wrote: (End of Vol. 2, Table II CIVILIZATION….) ”2. End of form-development. Meaningless, empty, artificial, pretentious architecture and ornament. Imitation of archaic and exotic motives from 2000”

  236. @Patricia Mathews

    I did a quick search for “early learning center” in Gainesville. Are you talking about the St. Anne ELC? That one is fairly awful… but there are worse things on campus! Look up Turlington Hall on the UF campus… I had a bunch of classes in that one. It’s hideous inside and out. Lots of poorly-thought-out inaccessible outdoor ledges up under the main roof… which then required oodles of anti-pigeon spike-strips to keep the entryway from turning into a guano pit. The view from the windows is all dirty spikes and old feathers. Gross.

    The Alachua library main branch is a pretty thoughtful, reasonably climate-appropriate building with a lovely interior. They did a good job with the shaded windows. And the tall ceilings on the main floor compensate for the open stairs connecting three levels inside (usually, this causes the basement to be freezing, and all the hot air goes to the top floor.

    I live up in the panhandle now– a little bit colder in the winter than you. Concrete’s a mixed bag. Holds up better to hurricanes than cheap stick-built stuff (good quality wood construction does well, but it’s not for tall buildings like yours), and there are better and worse ways to handle it. You can compensate for the thermal effect by using a LOT of insulation, shading the walls on the outside (trees, porches, trellises, generous roof overhangs), sealing up the insulation pockets thoroughly, so that moist air can’t get in there, and keeping the windows closed and the “climate control” on all the time. I’d expect the Village to employ all those strategies. For houses… I’ve lived in both stick and concrete homes, and I’d go with the stick kind any day, because I like to have the windows open. With a concrete slab… I sometimes had wet floors all day long, after a cool night. Nothing short of subfloor heating would have fixed that.

  237. JeremyZ: Yes, the Presidents preceding Trump were pretty bad policy-wise. But Trump, in addition to being tacky and vulgar as you say, has taken some horrible policy positions himself; not limited to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, letting Bibi influence the US policy toward Iran, and actively promoting regime change in Venezuela. These policies do not serve the interests of the citizens of the USA.

  238. JMG, I, look forward to your take on modern and post-modern uglicist architecture. I am regular reader but don’t often comment, but since I have a fair bit of knowledge on this subject and a view from the trenches, I thought I would chime in. Feel free to not post this if you don’t want since it’s rather long, but I thought it might be useful to you in writing as it does illustrate what some of us architects learned about modern architectural history if we paid attention in school.

    It isn’t that hard to ascertain why architecture went the way that it did in the 20th century, as the early modernists were quite explicit in what they were trying to achieve. I think it is a great example of peak rationalism in Western culture They stated that they wanted to create architecture wholly of ‘the now’ that is what it is, and didn’t signify or reference anything else. The modern movement even beyond architecture also saw society as having been completely remade by industrialization and the shrinking of distance and time through instantaneous communication and rapid travel. Hence the need to reject the past. This is why they had a disdain for ornament and rejected all historical formal styles, to reference to the past and its symbols and ornaments was no longer relevant. Corbusier’s house as a ‘machine for living in’ is probably the purest example. Interestingly, you can trace some of the intellectual history to John Ruskin and his for search for ‘honesty in materials’ – the use of materials and the methods of working them being what they are and not something else- even though he came to vastly different conclusions through his rejection of industrialization. It’s funny how quickly the mdoern movement became just another style -the international style. This style came to represent the rational-industrial-commercial empire of the future, and its new proponents adapted it to the needs of the automobile (not humans) and large scale business and government. The post-modern movement that seeks to supplant modernism and recognized how modernism became just another style and signifier has resorted to creating abstract forms that don’t look like buildings as their answer to the problem of signification. And yet having a bright shiny spaceship building has already become a signifier of being a avant-garde city or organization and so has already insured its own death as a style in failing to address the underlying problem that I claims to answer. This is leaving out the fact that the buildings are fantastically expensive, most often ugly, and novel only when their were limited numbers of them.

    The biggest failure of the modernists is also central to the movement. It is the desire to transcend representation and have something only signify itself. To merge meaning with physical reality, ie to have a thing be itself and only itself and not reference anything else. It is an understandable impulse but full of naive hubris to undertake as a serious endeavor. Humans (and probably other animals) seemingly by default work with symbols and representation even without using spoken or written language. It seems like an implicit denial of our biology and humanity, and maybe is the result of worshipping progress, rationalization, and industrialization over life. That’s also where the obsession with ‘pure’ shapes, squares, boxes, and straight lines came from. Pure rational geometric forms were seen as not polluted with any representation from the past, they were only what they were. It’s all rather shaky intellectual ground because one can even dispute that a cube is always a cube and can’t represent something else. By the the international style was in full swing mid century, the intellectual underpinnings were discussed less and less, probably because there were too many holes to form a coherent ideology. It’s also interesting about the early modernist works that they were so obsessed with creating a building that looked to be made from industrial components that weren’t yet available, that they chose finishes and materials that were created / applied by hand by skilled craftsmen but to look like they were machine made. Two examples are hand fabricated steel framed windows and completely smooth plaster on lathe finishes. So they had not escaped representation, and in fact were ‘lying’ with their use of materials even from the outset.

    In this denial of humanity and biology it is not difficult to see the international style as the style of abstract death, and notable that it was birthed in Western Europe immediately before WWII and at the same time Spengler was talking about the death of the West.

    I personally prefer the works of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright’s attempts to create an ‘organic architecture’, and the Craftsman style and other work out of the Arts & Crafts movement.
    I also think they were more healthy and life-centered attempts to respond to these changes in our culture, and took more grounded regional approaches to dealing with those changes, which is not a surprise since their philosophy kept more of the humanism of Ruskin intact, even though some of them rejected his historicism.

    Interestingly in the gentrified neighborhoods where the professional international classes live in many cities, you see significant premiums for intact craftsman bungalows and american four square houses, or the walk-up brick rowhouses and brownstones. So, for the class that one would think would most accept either modernism or post-modernism, you instead see a preference for these more humane forms.

    I agree with you that a return to human-scaled cities and buildings is imperative, with a recognition of our history and an understanding that ornament is not a crime. I also agree that the casual ugliness of sprawl surrounding all of our cities and towns like a damaged and inflamed membrane attempting to separate us from the countryside is destroying our culture, and minds and bodies. This is also not a rare viewpoint amongst architects. Though many do buy-in to the mythology of progress more than I. But I do disagree about neoclassicism. Some of its buildings are rather pleasant and some are rather ugly. Mandating style is a mistake, and not much better than mandating the international style.

    I’m sure you will discuss a lot of this in unexpected ways and probably come to more interesting conclusions so if you’re looking for any references to their writings I’m happy to send them along.

    I will say that in the large and small firms I’ve and my friends have worked, clients already largely determine aesthetics to the extent they are allowed by local jurisdictions. They have many other choices of architects if we won’t listen to them. Only what we call starchitects, the internationally famous architects who get to pick their clients, get to determine aesthetics, everyone else has to mind their clients. Clients are influenced by the trends coming out of universities and the starchitects and magazines, but the profession is far less monolithic and has far less power than you’ve implied. Sure, we literally design a part of our built environment, but we are so constrained by client decisions, code, zoning, and design review in many cities that we are often order-takers for buildings on many projects (as in waiters, which i’ve also done a lot of). The real powers determining our built environment are highway departments, planning and zoning departments, government in general (local, state, federal), the international code council, and local real estate-developer elites, who get exceptions to local laws or local laws tailored to them.

  239. Hi Lady Cutekitten,

    Like your name! It reeks of proper style.

    As a bit of background, I live on a farm and have to deal with life and death. About a decade ago I had a veternarian shake me down for some mad cash to perform surgery on an old dog – she was a good mate of mine (few dogs want to be work companions, and she was one such). Anyway, I paid for the surgery, and she was an old dog and began having seizures shortly afterwards. At a guess it was renal failure. I got her put down, and planted a tree over her grave and vowed not to put old dogs in the care of veternarian’s again. The fruit tree is doing very well.

    In the city you can pretend that death can be avoided, but in a rural area the drama that is life and death goes on all around you. You sort of get pragmatic about it.

    I tend to replace deceased dogs with new ones from the pound as it helps keep the mental health of the pack in good order. Dog’s feel the loss of their mates.

    Hi WIll J,

    Too true. The dogs here get to run around all day long, and they perform a useful function of moderating the excesses of the wildlife. My cattle dog (the poop puppy – but no longer) gets to chase rabbits and much larger marsupials, which is plenty of exercise. When he sleeps at night, he sleeps soundly knowing he has to to get up and do it all over again the next day. And the marsupials enjoy the orchard and gardens at night unhindered – unless they overdo things as they sometimes do and then they get to be reintroduced to the cattle dog. Nobody is happy, but there is a rough balance as to how it all works.

    Hi beekeeper,

    🙂 I sometimes see people with personal trainers in nearby towns running around the streets with weights and wonder how I can get them put to work hauling rocks here. It would be a special treat for me!



  240. All this talk of architecture, ugly buildings, and what to do about them in the comments, and no one yet mentioned the recently-deceased Sir Roger Scruton? He grappled with the problem of how ugly today’s buildings are and how to find a way forward, and I suspect a lot of his thinking would resonate quite strongly with yours.

    One of his last projects was as chair of the UK government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission. His appointment, and even the creation of the commission was quite remarkable, because he was an enemy of Uglicist architecture. So not surprisingly, he was considered quite controversial by establishment types.

    Here’s two starting points:

  241. Somewhat off topic but not really:

    The link below is to a JAMA video of a current interview with Anthony Faucci regarding the Novel Corona Virus.

    It is intended primarily for physicians, nurses and others in the health care professions. but should be understandable by most of the readers of this blog.

    Dr. Faucci is head of the CDC and he is neither panicking nor covering up this public healh, emergency. The interview is a good reality check on what we know and don’t yet know about the virus, and it may be the best single source for information to use in predicting how it might play out, — epidemiologically, socially, and economically.

  242. Renaissance, it’s clear to me that we have no idea what’s actually going on in China. That’s why I’ve been watching cases outside of China closely. There’s been one death, in the Philippines, but other than that it seems to be serious but relatively manageable. Why the difference? One commenter further up suggested that air pollution might be a major factor, and the more I ponder that, the more plausible it seems — the great majority of the deaths so far have been among elderly patients, and if you’ve lived most of your lifespan in a Chinese industrial region like the Wuhan area you’re likely to have the lungs of a three-pack-a-day smoker — and that’s a known risk factor for pneumonia. We’ll see, but until I start seeing deaths outside the PRC I’m not going to worry much.

    Samurai, the Sacred Geometry Oracle only discusses architecture in passing. A future sacred geometry book I have in process will have more to say on the subject. As for the experiment, okay, I definitely need to read the Sussman book!

    Jacurutu, no question there.

  243. @Methylethyl – yes, the St. Anne’s ELC. I have never seen nor been in Turlington Hall at UFL, but I’ll take your word for it. I’ll ask Carol if she knows it. Sounds like a true horror.

    The Alachua Count library sounds lovely! My branch is the Bookmobile which visits The Village the first Monday of every month, at least until September.

    As for Lake House, yes, all of these. I do wonder if you could have a good-quality 4-story wood building, but also welcome the stormproofing of the concrete one I’m in. I sat and watched the magnificent show Thor put on for us, with sheet lightning and driving rain against the windows and lashing winds. However, I sometimes feel etherically starved in it, and welcome sunshine when we get it. Walked down to the Tower Club, a 10-minute walk but often beyond my strength as yet, yesterday evening for white wine and sociable conversation. The genteelly purposeless ladies Kimberly Steele describes are very rare here, though I still have flashes of it after 7 1/2 months.

  244. A decade or so ago, my little church realized that it needed major renovations. “Water” was the forcing factor: runoff from the parking lot was flooding into a stairwell, and then into the lower level of the building, and a leaking 50-year old flat roof had collapsed the ceiling (not in the worship space, which has a sensibly pitched roof). A committee was formed, and architect selected, and plans drawn up. The Pastor proposed that we could get a better sense of “the new church” if we (of all ages) built a model from the children’s building blocks. We couldn’t do it! It was structurally impossible, as we confirmed later. Plan B was put into motion: not an architect, but a “design & build” firm, with no pretenses of artistic vision. The only problem with the new building is that the hard-surfaced vaulted ceiling of the foyer, over an easy-to-clean tile floor, reflects the sound of happy people sharing coffee and snacks to an undesirable degree.

  245. My two bob’s worth on a couple of subjects.
    I don’t like modern architecture generally speaking and as I travel by train from Milton to Roma St on the way into Brisbane I look with wonder at the cityscape. Just think, they had to get permission to build something so awful.
    To Heather re the ladies who want to be good. One of the nicest things about ageing is realising how little other people’s opinions matter and that you can’t change the world. Perform whatever kindness comes to hand and go dancing.

  246. As a follow up to my previous post.

    Some sources say the first wave of indictments by Durham is likely in late June or early July,, others say late spring or early summer. I have no doubt we will see a steady dribble of investigations, subpoenas, indictments, damaging leaks and so on during the campaign season, aimed at causing maximum damage to the Democrats while driving the news cycle and keeping them off guard.

    One other thing I have come across: apparently there are some investigators and intelligence analysts who suspect that the infamous ” Steele dossier” was part of a sophisticated disinformation campaign by Russian intelligence operatives. According to this theory, Steele was deliberately fed a pack of lies by the Russian sources he was dealing with, in hopes that he and the people he was working for would take the bait and react accordingly. Jim Kunstler has talked about this theory on his blog and he has even suggested that Steele may well have been a Russian double agent or at the very least was a dupe who should have done a better job checking his sources.

    If this turns out to be the case, then the operation was a huge success, because the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Obama administration and the FBI took the bait hook, line and sinker, doing incalculable amounts of damage to the Democrats in the process. It’s worth noting that disinfo ops like this aimed at creating an atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and internal infighting within an adversary’s ranks have long been a favorite tactic of Russian intelligence agencies. In addition, the description of this alleged disinformation operation sounds an awful lot like a textbook example of “reflexive control” in action. Reflexive control is a form of psychological manipulation that was invented by psychologists working for the KGB in the 1960’s and 70’s and has been used on a number of occasions in the last several decades.

  247. @Prizm, @JMG

    isn’t paying for being denounced as racism the same for affluent WASP as throwing tons of money on really fire-breathing protestant preacher screaming abuse and threat of hell and pointing sinners by name in hours-long sermon (all not that uncommon in XIX century)?. I mean, like you wrote about Spengler analysis of Age of Reason ideologies in any civilization: the surface meaning of words change, the religious rituals get stuffed into closet, but the sensibility and deep structure remain near identical?


  248. Christopher, good. Glad to see that you’re paying attention.

    Chris, that’s the managerial state in terminal crisis. “We have to control everything! Not a single dog must leave our pound without dog and owner alike being under our perpetual management!” The next step, according to the Discordians, is total disintegration. As for the Wuhan flu, yes — and yes, umpty-thousand deaths in a US flu season is normal. When I worked in nursing homes we’d get ready for flu season each year, because every year it would take a significant toll of senile, bedridden patients.

    Chicken Rancher, thanks for this. Good to see that somebody’s on top of it.

    Patricia, true enough! When’s the last time that a piece of paper failed to display the information entered onto it? 😉

    Beekeeper, we saw plenty of articles like that in 2016, too, We’ll see who’s right!

    Jay Pine, au contraire, one of the easy ways to handle an economic contraction is to jettison an industry that doesn’t produce any necessary goods or services. If the tourist industry were to fall over and die, other economic sectors would have a much easier time stabilizing things. Sure, it would be rough in resort towns, but firms that cater to “staycations” and local holiday options would expand to fill much of the same economic space.

    Booklover, oh, granted, one way or another the next decade is going to see a lot of familiar beliefs chucked into the compost and a lot of dramatic changes. Since the beliefs weren’t working very well and the changes are badly overdue, though, I suspect that in at least some parts of the world people will be cheering and modest improvements can be expected, for a while.

    Arkansas, Jim is spot on as usual — on that subject, he’s always cogent.

    Violet, that’s a good point. Another thing I’ve been brooding over is the role of style as a language. If you build in the classical or neoclassical style, or in any coherent style such as Gothic, your building speaks a language the people who use it can understand, because they’ve grown up with the style and know how to read it. Uglicist architecture is a rejection of meaning as well as beauty — an Uglicist building has no relation to any stylistic language, so it’s just yelling incoherent noise, and thus fostering a culture of incoherence and meaninglessness.

    Your Kittenship, thanks for this.

    Phutatorius, interesting.

    Steve, thanks for this! I haven’t yet taken the time to study Celtic knotwork — yeah, I know, as a Druid I’m falling down on the job — but I find myself wondering if there are specific proportions that structure it. That’s a very common factor in decoration that makes instinctive sense to people — and its absence generates the kind of vapidity the elves displayed.

    David, it’s an interesting question for debate whether it’s the Republic or the earlier Apology that marks the birth certificate of the West, since the latter has implicit in it most of the core themes of the former. One or the other, though, will have to do. Identification with the philosopher-kings is certainly one catastrophic mistake; a failure to realize that every human being contains all three castes — that the slave boy in the Meno clearly has his own internal philosopher king, and is not simply epithymia all by ltseif — is another.

    David BTL, the Democrats are facing the same thing this year that the Republicans faced in 2016: their rank and file are no longer willing to tolerate the failed business-as-usual policies that their leaders insist are the only thinkable option. If Sanders does get the nomination, the entire package of neoliberal economics and privileged progressivism will be fitted with a toe tag by year’s end. As for the candidacy of No One, given the current Democratic lineup, are you surprised? 😉

    Walter, good heavens, he finally noticed! I hope someone points him to Spengler one of these days.

    She who Holds, thanks for this!

  249. Aidan, no, it’s a function of elite replacement. When an old elite becomes senile and new sectors of society rise toward elite status, members of the new sectors want to distance themselves from their non-elite origins, and overbearing rudeness toward their former equals is one drearily common way to do that.

    Peter, thank you! The fact that you have a copy of the Ten Books on Architecture has restored some of my faith in the possibilities of the profession. I honestly think that the AIA et al. would shriek like a gutshot banshee no matter what style the government was going to request, since — as you suggest — it’s the notion that architects get to do whatever they want, and nobody else gets a word in edgewise, that they most want to protect.

    Your Kittenship, did you ever have one of those enduring gag items, the Invisible Dog Leash? If I wanted to walk something, that’s what I’d use…
    invisible fido

    Levi, thanks for this! Can you point me to some good books on the origins of Uglicism and the intentions of founding Uglicists such as Gropius and Le Corb?

    Eirik, he was a good deal less well known on this side of the Atlantic, so many thanks for the pointer.

    Jim, fascinating. Thank you for this!

    Walter, and thank you for this also.

    Lathechuck, some sound-absorbent tile on the ceiling would fix that promptly.

    JillN, I doubt they could have gotten permission, industrial culture being what it is, to build something that wasn’t awful.

    Jacurutu, that’s a possibility, but I’d want to weigh it against the possibility that the Steele dossier was simply faked up by the Democrats in an attempt to defend the formerly bipartisan kleptocracy in the US against its nemesis.

  250. Changeling, that’s an excellent point!

    Your Kittenship, that such things are currently made in China doesn’t mean that they can’t be made anywhere else — and this may be just the jolt we need to start making them here again.

  251. Hi JMG,

    Of course the medicines can be made elsewhere—but how many innocent people die while the factories are being (re)built?

    If we ever get a functioning government, the PMCs who thought sole-source for medication was a good idea should be put on trial for attempted genocide, with capital specifications to the charges. I wonder if the idea came from the Chicago Boys, a malevolently stupid group of eggheads. Whenever I encounter an idea that makes me wonder how a person could be so stupid, or so poison mean, or both, around 75% of the time I find it started with the Chicago Boys.

  252. I’ve just started reading studies on MSG, and found an oversight which tells me right away that MSG is far more dangerous than I’d thought, and that I can safely discount most of the research showing it’s “safe”. I’m going to summarize the problem for those interested here. Chemically speaking, MSG is composed of two components: a sodium ion and glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is not found in natural foods. Rather, what’s found is glutamine, which has a subtly different composition, however even slight differences can have massive effects, and so the effects can’t be neatly compared.

    This is exactly what many of the studies do, however. Thus, the results are meaningless. This also explains something which I find fascinating: there appear to be plenty of people who can consume glutamine in massive amounts, but run into issues with even small amounts of MSG. I’m one of them, but until I started looking into the research, I wasn’t sure why this would be the case.

    The issue I have is that this sort of “oversight” is typically only going to be used if the other methods of gimmicking results aren’t strong enough, and if they’re not strong enough, well then dear gods there’s something dangerous there.

  253. I just heard a red fox 🦊 shriek! We don’t normally hear them in town. I hope she has 10 puppies and they scare all the skunks away!

  254. Hi JMG,
    Just wanted to say that I cannot wait to read your take on modern architecture. I am one of the people that did not know why I hated it until I read J.H. Kunstler’s books and listened to his podcasts.

    Growing up in a poor communist country, I was familiar both with good architecture (old buildings not maintained but still beautiful) and bad (brutalist modern buildings that decay in a couple of decades).
    I never paid attention to it until I got to US. You see, in a poor country they could not destroy ALL the good old buildings so the ugly new style was rarely overwhelming.

    In US, I am still shocked when I have to walk through a big city downtown. The scale, the noise, the soullessness just gets to me.

    One thing to note about the ugly architecture – even when trying to replace it with something better, they mess it up. For example they are filling in the small center of my town. They built 3-5 story buildings with stores etc – in theory it’s all good. In practice, they put the stores behind the building, leaving the front long concrete walls and some miserable bushes. And of course they allowed the cars to drive behind the building turning it into some kind of mall. That’s why I tend to agree that it’s by design, not just incompetence.

  255. Hi JMG,
    More about architecture. I think Roger Scruton (Why beauty matters: presents a different perspective on the uglification of art in the 20th century.

    I have my own theory on this: I think culture is driven by biology and physics. A society built by machines will end up being built FOR machines.


  256. An architect friend of mine preferred to do his drawings in pan and ink rather than on a computer. When I asked why he said you could see CAD-designed buildings immediately — the squared-off angles, the repetitive elements, etc. He preferred a more organic style.

    It’s true. You can see these buildings immediately. Although architects do try to add some interest with variations in shape, color, and surface texture, there is a family resemblance. I’m talking now of what one might call bread-and-butter architecture, such as apartment blocks and student housing, of which a lot is being built in my area.

    I just hope we don’t go the way of China, sprouting forests of identical tall apartment blocks. I can’t imagine what it’s like living in that sort of area.

    The Uglicist architecture discussed here seems to be a property of the “signature building”, designed to stand out and make a statement. We have a couple of reskinnings in our city to give the tower blocks a more contemporary look. More like a “mutton dressed as lamb” look, IMHO. I think the city council got burned in the 1970s when the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi was all the rage with his sculptural concrete buildings. He designed for us the Good Hope Centre, an exhibition hall in the shape of a plus sign with barrel-vaulted roofs. It looks dowdy and was never popular with the public because the usable space was badly laid out. Recently we got the Cape Town Stadium that is a nice stadium but expensive to maintain and bears an unfortunate resemblance to a hospital bed-pan.

  257. JMG,
    I don’t think we’re in disagreement. Humanity has overshot and got complacent – mass tourism being just a part.
    It’s blowing a one in ten year Gale here in Western Europe and after speaking with a relative in Australia earlier, it seems they are having very unusual persistent high rainfall on the east coast after the dryness that brought the fires. Winds of change indeed – it will be marked as beginning in 2020 I suspect.
    I am a long term follower of yours and agree it will be many changes both gradual and more immediate – and niches will continue to get filled but on a more local level. In other news, I just learnt my partner has been developing her witchy side – she’s mostly given short shrift to any of my ‘woo’ up to now so bit of a change there. In light of this I read the following. Interesting.

  258. Re the Iowa Caucus and the Democrat failure: too much is made of Iowa (and, methinks, the election season starts way too early). In 2016, the Republican winner of Iowa was Ted Cruz. How did that work out?

    Best thing to come out of this campaign season, IMHO. The Democrat Debate on ABC News ended with a Public Service Announcement about e-Verify. I almost fell out of my chair laughing, because e-Verify works and will tell you in less than 2 minutes who is legal or illegal for hiring.

    Why does Trump present his Wall as the only solution to illegals? I did some online reading. In Florida in 2010, a segment in Florida wanted e-Verify added to the state constitution and made mandatory for hiring. The Republican governor, Rick Scott, blocked it at the behest of the citrus growers. They effectively rolled out a Welcome Mat for illegal immigrants. Look who’s living in Florida in 2010: Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and the Fox Civilian Bullcrap generator. How does Trump come up with his Wall, which is in direct contradiction to what Southern States need in terms of migrant labor? Are you getting anything of benefit from illegals? Republican governor, now Senator, Rick Scott certainly seems to think so.

  259. And here’s how the NY Times pitched the architectural guidelines for new federal buildings:

    “MAGA War on Architectural Diversity Weaponizes Greek Columns”

    The NYT was a decent paper back in the day (way back). They have become a progressive rag since the last change of publisher/editorial board. Oh well.

  260. JMG asked “When’s the last time that a piece of paper failed to display the information entered onto it? 😉”

    From the subtropics here, “when it got good and wet?”

    But yes, failing that, paper is pretty permanent.

  261. @methylethyl re rabies,

    for comparison, the three shot course of preventative rabies vaccine cost me $750 ($US 500) all up two months ago here in Australia. I paid full price, no subsidy, since it was an optional vaccine. Also, I was told that if I didn’t get the preventative shots and got bitten then I’d still need the three shot course but would also need a single immunoglobulin/rabies vaccine injection within 24 hours of the bite (so four injections). So – seven shots seems a lot, as well as expensive. I know my sister’s Type1 diabetes is much cheaper to treat here as well ($150/month compared to thousands in the US), but it is subsidised by the government as a chronic illness so it’s not really comparable.

  262. “Can you point me to some good books on the origins of Uglicism and the intentions of founding Uglicists such as Gropius and Le Corb?”

    I’m not sure what Levi might say, but one book that springs to my mind is Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House. Let’s just say that it was not well received by the architecture establishment and its supporters in the critical media (which is, of course, the proverbial understatement).

  263. All–

    I’m curious as to my fellow Ecosophians’ thoughts regarding the chances that 1) Sanders actually gets the nomination, or 2) the party leadership successfully orchestrates a block by either a) coordinating a coalescing around one of the current candidates or b) bringing in a white knight (dark horse) candidate late in the game.

    Entertaining no matter what, of course. Popcorn for eeeeveryone 🙂

  264. Re: Gehry’s attempt to rebuild residential housing in New Orleans, I little poking around with Google turned up an article describing how many of the homes built to his design have failed due to poor management of mere rain. They get a lot of it in Louisiana, even without hurricanes. Flat roofs (which leak), and which lack overhangs (so water runs down the side of the house), have made the houses unusable. Decks were built with chemical-free lumber, so the wood is rapidly rotting away. Who could have guessed?

    The first Gehry design was apparently completed 2012. By Sept, 2018, we see this: and

    The architect getting sued is not Gehry, though, but some guy named Williams, who developed the “designs” created by the famous architects into actual build plans.

    The famous architect has a sweet deal: if everybody’s happy, it’s my building; if something goes wrong, blame it on the guy who had to work out the details… like how to make a flat roof waterproof.

  265. R: coronavirus. Apart from the fact that few news reports are carrying the tiny number of “recovered” cases, 7% of confirmed cases, as of Feb. 8, I’d like to see figures on the total number of deaths due to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome for all causes. We hear that the death rate is low (2%) and the absolute number small (800, vs. over 8000 deaths in the US due to ordinary seasonal flu), so why are we worried? I’m worried about the number of cases that were never diagnosed, and died anyway.

    Coincidentally, I went home from work early Friday not feeling well, and found that I had a fever. As I snuggled into a warm bed, I went over my contacts of the last week. Fortunately, the fever was gone by Saturday afternoon. Maybe it was something I ate. It was a dress rehearsal for future fevers, though.

  266. “David, it’s an interesting question for debate whether it’s the Republic or the earlier Apology that marks the birth certificate of the West, since the latter has implicit in it most of the core themes of the former. One or the other, though, will have to do. Identification with the philosopher-kings is certainly one catastrophic mistake; a failure to realize that every human being contains all three castes — that the slave boy in the Meno clearly has his own internal philosopher king, and is not simply epithymia all by ltseif — is another.”

    Yes maybe, and one thought I had was the Apology does not have much on the Forms compared to Republic. However actually Plato’s Forms are in someways the least influential thing, or negatively influential… The History of intellectual thought from then to now could plausibly be told as a systematic and consistant undermining and rejection of Forms until today it appears like the idea is utterly discredited. Although no philosophy can do without forms – even post-modernist theorists have to have at least “Difference” a a Form. Satre had “the Infinite”. For some reason Platos Form are false exept the one or two they need to base their philiosophy on!

    Question on the 3 caste – why does Plato only have three whereas most societies have four? – Even Athens did pre the Solon reforms in the 600 bc times… So it is not just Vedic culture that had four – even medieval England had the Church, the Kings and Nobles, the Merchants, and the Serfs….

  267. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for your response — it helps to organize some things I’ve noticed, that are very subtle — in a neo-classical building people tend to have a hushed and serene tone and bearing, in more gothic type buildings, it’s as if Bruckner’s Mass in E-Minor is playing forever just outside the range of hearing, and people deport themselves accordingly. In the big box stores folks stroll about dazed, wearing sweatpants, with a look of nearly palpable confused fear.

    These buildings, the Uglicist buildings, then promulgate anomie. If the buildings that surround us communicate subtle valences of meaning and provide various tracks in space of comportment, than those that deny beauty and meaning will pull people into this ambit, and anomie will reign in these areas.

    Still, I wonder about the natural magic principles at work here, too. The gothic and classical designs have quite a bit of sacred geometry inhering in the proportions, with quite a bit of utilization of the Golden Ratio. This would, I imagine, induct downward into form broadly beneficial influences.

    Speculatively, from a feng shui perspective, I would imagine that Uglicist architecture would prove an unmitigated disaster. This, then, would be a notch or two closer to materiality, perhaps, than either Beauty or Meaning — my understanding is that feng shui works closely with rather dense ethers, and so these buildings may actively physically harm those in proximity. Certainly, I’ve employed a few feng shui principles in my house and found that they had an immediate and profound effect.

    When I’ve spent time in neo-classical libraries, especially, I’ve felt a salubrious induction of ethers into my body. When I’ve spent time around suburban sprawl, I’ve felt actively nauseous, and could often “smell” something rather like vomit right outside the range of scent. I doubt that any amount of banishing rituals, floorwashes or blessings could correct the bad vibes — the feng shui may be so hostile to life that nothing could correct the basically bad vibes these spaces generate.

    This strikes me as, rather obviously, an enormous problem — without irony I note that I’ve seen tent cities, homeless camps, and shanty towns with much better etheric induction into form than the half abandoned shopping plazas in my high-toned hometown. This sort of arrangement totally and utterly disincentives any sort of civic participation — why should I care about the basic ordering of society when it marches on, transforming all around into insensible, incoherent ugliness? When society, rather than generating mutually conducive norms, rather goes full bore into the production of anomie, than I would imagine a revolutionary situation is on hand — as one could argue was indeed the case around the time of the election of President Trump.

    If I’m surrounded by more beauty and meaning when sleeping in a blackberry patch filled with homeless Mexican laborers in tents outside of Portland Oregon rather than in the sprawl of Gresham Oregon, how can I be well disposed to the basic order of society? This actually happened, and it was a bitter sort of experience in which the amount of rent I could afford would land me either in literally sickening sprawl or sleeping in a tent. And so I spent many years of my life living in tents, shacks, filthy attics and hovels. Not only was the price right, it was infinitely more beautiful and meaningful than anything else I could afford.

  268. “Levi, thanks for this! Can you point me to some good books on the origins of Uglicism and the intentions of founding Uglicists such as Gropius and Le Corb?”

    Levi I’m sure knows something better, but Thomas Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House is a really good popular look at the subject.

  269. Ross Douthat, often a sensible person, has been reading Ecosophia I think.


    The truth of the first decades of the 21st century, a truth that helped give us the Trump presidency but will still be an important truth when he is gone, is that we probably aren’t entering a 1930-style crisis for Western liberalism or hurtling forward toward transhumanism or extinction. Instead, we are aging, comfortable and stuck, cut off from the past and no longer optimistic about the future, spurning both memory and ambition while we await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.

    The farther you get from that iPhone glow, the clearer it becomes: Our civilization has entered into decadence.

    “What fascinates and terrifies us about the Roman Empire is not that it finally went smash,” wrote W.H. Auden of that endless autumn, but rather that “it managed to last for four centuries without creativity, warmth, or hope.”


    That last bit sounds a little bleak to me – I’m personally very hopeful about the start of gardening season! But any NYTimes article that explores the path between human extinction or the singularity seems worthwhile to me.

  270. I wrote this a bit ago….
    “Form follows Function”
    The architect Louis Sullivan coined the maxim, although it is often incorrectly attributed to the sculptor Horatio Greenough (1805–1852), whose thinking mostly predates the later functionalist approach to architecture.
    This is what he said
    “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.
    It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law”
    Louis Sullivan 1896
    Seems he meant something totally different by the phrase “Form follows function” than the Uglicists think it means.

  271. BTW, I’m also Marlena13, accidentally used that to post here the other day 🙂

  272. @Violet

    Re the subtle effects of architecture

    Not having anything to do with classical architecture, but an anecdote from my own experience. Shortly before my wife and I met & married (the two events occurring in rapid succession), she bought the house we presently live in. It is just over 90 years old, having been constructed in 1929. Over these last ten years, we’ve been slowly restoring and renovating, but trying to honor the original structure as best we can.

    It is a wonderful house. Dark crown molding (walnut, I think) everywhere. Wood floors throughout, even under the carpeting and kitchen tile we pulled up. (We refinished those.) Original (and operational) cast-iron radiators in every room. The one major renovation was the kitchen, which needed more substantial structural changes (e.g. replacing 30-inch counters with 36-inch counters). We did, however, make the conscious decision *not* to install a dishwasher, in keeping with the nature of the house. Yours truly washes dishes by hand every few days, which I find to be an excellent opportunity for active meditation.

    It’s not so much that I notice the quality of what we have here, so much as I notice what more “modern” houses lack when I’m in those homes. There is a soul or a personality to the structure that is missing in things built for modern suburbia–or those ubiquitous “luxury townhouse apartments” one sees.

  273. Hi JMG, I know some of what we I’ve read were magazine articles that had been photocopied at least a few times and may be difficult to find. I will keep digging through my papers and see what I can find. However there are a few easy to find ones that are pretty important.

    The first and one of the most influential is Toward an Architecture by Le Corbusier

    Another is by not as famous an architect but one whose work pretty directly lead into modernism is
    Adolf Loos – Ornament and Crime

    I’m sure Gropius and Mies van der Rohe have some writings out there especially since they both came to the US and taught at universities, but I can’t seem to find any of them yet.

    Another source of influence and on their intellectual arguments is the Dutch de Stijl movement which is more famous for its art (Mondrian) but did have some architects. Their manifesto is viewable on wikipedia, but they have other writings that are more in depth that I’ll look for.

    The interpretation I wrote of the modernist philosophy and how it deals with representation and signification draws a lot from linguistic structuralism as used by Claude Levi-Strauss which I learned from a couple professors. I can dig around some more for that as well.

    A short article that deals with some of these themes and how elite architecture is transmitted to the masses via magazines is ‘On Adolf Loos and Joseph Hoffman: Architecture in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ by Beatriz Colomina. I have a copy of this I can send if you like.

    For Wright’s alternate response to the same time period there is ‘An Organic Architecture’ by FLW

    Perhaps mass adoption of international style was to a certain extent, inevitable. Or to not do so would’ve required the rejection or limiting of the ideals that it espoused, the universal man, mass industrialization, the break with history, and mass broadcast culture. Apparently humanity needed to explore that idea of the universal taken to the extreme. Of course, once you start adopting it, it becomes a feedback loop, because the built environment makes those ideals real. I would’ve preferred if we took the route with softer edges but still plenty of problems espoused by Wright and others, but they probably weren’t as appealing because the ideas weren’t taken quite so far to the logical extreme, which for whatever reason is so enthralling to this culture for many of the reasons you’ve mentioned in the past.

    As I mentioned earlier I’ll keep digging for those old papers and see what else I find.

  274. I can’t help but note that the cities we have are designed for cars, not people. I wonder if part of the reason our buildings are not designed for humans either is a side effect of the fact our cities aren’t designed for us either, filtering down into the very buildings we create….

  275. Lathechuck, I second your recommendation of Granola Shotgun. He always has interesting things to note about architecture and urban forms. I also like that doesn’t jump to ideologically-driven conclusions and just tries to honestly present what he sees. And he travels enough to give the reader a taste of a lot of places in the US.

  276. Jay Pine,
    This rain in Eastern Australia is not odd. The lack of it for so long is odd. This is our rainy season. January and February used to be when we got most of our rain and still when they are dry months my heart sinks as I know we cannot hope for too much later in the year although it does rain at other times. This tropical and subtropical rainfall extends from the far north to just south of Sydney. It is uncommon for Victoria to get summer rain. Winter is their wet season. It is lovely to see things so green again and suddenly everyone is out mowing after a couple of years of not needing to.
    It is great to read your comments again, John. Always the interesting background to life as it is.

  277. @Steve:
    I have the same feeling whenever I see the film props for Rivendell. They don’t feel real, they feel like an imitation of a 19th century imitation of older art, like artificial ruins in English parks.

  278. @Wil J:
    Both glutamine and glutamate are among the 20 aminoacids specified by the universal genetic code and therefore found in all proteins. At pH 4, glutamate and glutamic acid convert into each other; at neutral pH, glutamate predominates.

    It is true that high concentrations of glutamate are toxic for many kinds of cells. In cell culture, care is always taken to supply the growth medium with glutamine only, which the cells will partly convert to glutamate and immediately put that glutamate to use, without giving it time to accumulate.

  279. I sent the above linked article (Why you hate contemporary architecture) to my son-in-law, who actually buys into the religion of progress and this is what he said:

    “Some of these pictures actually make me angry. What a disgraceful waste of space and beauty. Modern life is hard enough on mental health without these eyesores dehumanising us everywhere we look.”

  280. And my thought is, Who are these people who somehow had the authority to engage in this massive public experiment upon us?

  281. @ Lady Cutekitten,

    Who are the Chicago Boys? And what does PMC mean?

    Thanks in advance and I’m looking forward to a cute kitten pic on the next ‘Ask me anything’ Ecosophia. I am partial (because they figured in my novel) to kittens in baskets.

    Teresa from Hershey

  282. I scrolled through the entire commentary looking for the link to the article about how bad it is that Trump would dare to dictate to architects what sorts of designs to produce and could not find it. I wanted to see how the comments were going.

  283. Hi All
    As I promised to Mattias Gralle I have found some info about the lasts life expactancy and drug overdose deaths in USA.

    The life expectancy had increase, in 2018, 0,1 year for the total population, the first year there is any increase from 2014, so now is 78,7 compare to 78,6 in the last data in 2017. It seems the trend to lower life expectancy at least has stopped (this was an anomaly compare with the rest of developed countries).

    The link to the report is:

    They say:
    “Life expectancy at birth increased 0.1 year from 78.6 years in 2017 to 78.7 in 2018, largely because of decreases in mortality from cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and heart disease”

    There are 2 causes of deaths that increase and are: “The rate increased 4.2% for influenza and pneumonia (14.3 to 14.9) and 1.4% for suicide (14.0 to 14.2). Rates for diabetes and kidney disease did not change significantly”

    Influenza was on the rising even before any trace of Coronavirus.

    In the category of “unintentional injuries” is where the overdose deaths are allocated, and the CDC has detected a decrease in the numbers from the first time from 1990. In the peak of number overdose deaths in a period of 12 months, seems to be in dec-17 when they reported 70.699 deaths, in the last period I have found statistics, in jun-19 the number of deaths in a 12 months period was 67.165, so it is a decrease of around 5%, which seems to be significant

    If you see in the map where the drug overdose deaths were higher than the average US rate, IMHO it match quite well where Trump lead against HC (page 3 of this report):

    On the other hand, the biggest decrease in the rate of drug overdose deaths are also allocated in the RustBelt and other places where Trump defeat HC. See the map here:

    So may be there are some improvement in the perception of “despair” or something similar in those states more afflicted by the opioid epimedic. On the other hand there is an increase in suicide rate (?)


  284. Thanks JillN,
    My relative did comment on the intensity of it but of course you’re right. Did read a couple of great stories on Wombats being an animal hero in and after the fires. I have a new appreciation of them.

  285. Another example of dueling bureaucracies: I worked for an apartment management company in San Francisco. We managed five buildings on Geary that had been build in the 1920 and 30s. One had some remodeling done in the basement to provide storage lockers, and the building inspector signing off on the alterations told us that the fire exit signs should direct people out through the front of the building. However, from part of the basement this would have involved going from a courtyard back through the building. The fire department said,” no, direct people to the open space behind the building. Don’t tell people to run into a burning building.” Building dept. objected that the back yard was fenced and people would be trapped back there. Fire dept-“-don’t worry we will tear down the fence if needed–repeat–do not direct people into a burning building.” We followed the fire department’s advice.

    In California, after decades of codes designed to encourage suburbs, we now have a requirement for cities to permit accessory dwellings. So called mother-in-law apartments and granny flats are to be promoted rather than deplored.

    On a different note, there is also a pilot program to allow motorists to harvest roadkill for their own use. Currently it is illegal to pick up a dead deer, etc. I noticed something on Facebook the other day about some state proposing to deny hunting licences to anyone receiving public benefits, such as food stamps. Presumably the legislators involved regard hunting as a luxury recreation (which it is for many) rather than as a way to fill the larder.

    Several years ago my daughter lost her greyhound (adopted off the track) to a sudden infection. She went to two different rescue organizations to adopt another. One group thought her yard was too big. Really, too big for an animal that likes to run? The other thought her family too chaotic, two boys and other dogs, etc. They acted as though they were re-homing antique porcelain statues of greyhounds rather than actual animals. She gave up and bought a standard poodle pup from a breeder. These were private groups, not government, but the mentality of control seems similar.


  286. David Jones.

    Merchants were not a social class in the Middle Ages. The class system was those who Fight, Those who Pray, those who Toil.

    A broader four class social system could be construed as Noble, Freeman, Serf, Slave which is somewhat like our modern Rich, Middle, Working, Poor

    Historically the creation of the merchant social class by social climbing rich peasants is the purest sign of social decay and chaos. This is why other feudal societies like Japan considered them as lower class and kept boots on necks.

  287. Just a side observation on recent events. I find it ironic, in that quirk of history kind of way, that Mitt Romney, mocked by Democrats during the 2012 campaign for suggesting that a revitalized Russia was a looming threat to US dominance, has become—at least temporarily—a darling of that party for his vote on the first article of impeachment of a president that the Democrats insist was put into office by the devious actions of those very Russians.

  288. Hi Teresa,

    PMC=Professional Managerial Class aka salary class aka educated fools, the source of nearly all our modern woes.

    Chicago Boys were a clique of laissez-faire economists centered at the University of Chicago. They pretty much trashed Latin America and their ideas are being used to do the same to USA.

  289. The “Chicago boys” — University of Chicago School of Economics economists such as Milton Friedman Ronald Coase, Gary Bekker and others. Aka “the belly of the beast” in my opinion.

  290. Your Kittenship, (1) one of the benefits of the current epidemic is that some of those choices may be about to be rethought before too many people die — or more precisely, die earlier than they otherwise would. Since all of us are going to die of something someday, I may be a little more blasé about it than I should be.(2) That sounds fun! See if you can fit the harness around the cabbage. (3) Foxes have apparently gotten very good at infiltrating modern cities, where there are so many tasty things for them to eat. I wish yours many happy meals of skunk.

    Loon, thanks for this. I’ve begun to explore the possibility that modern architecture can be understood as a form of built schizophrenia — “schizotecture,” in effect — and the Brutalist style would be the catatonic form. Knowing the origins of the case will be helpful.

    Will, interesting. That wouldn’t surprise me — I don’t know if you heard about the famous study many years ago that tried to prove that garlic doesn’t have any benefits for heart health. The researchers were of course careful to use freeze-dried garlic, since freeze-drying breaks down allicin, the active ingredient that benefits heart health. Gimmicking experiments like that is par for the course in the health sciences these days.

    NomadicBeer, thanks for this! I agree, it’s not simply incompetence — the rise of Uglicism in architecture was driven by specific ideological motives, antihuman in nature but hardwired into the culture of the time, and it was also fostered by class prejudices of a kind I’ve discussed here already. More on this as we proceed.

    Martin, thanks for this also. No question, computers make it very easy to be mindlessly uncreative — and oddly enough, I’ve seen other stadiums that look like bedpans. I bet Freud would have field day with that!

    Jay, interesting. What I’ve been seeing is very nearly exactly the opposite — the Neopagan movement, of which much modern witchcraft is of course a subspecies, has been imploding over the last few years, with stores shutting their doors, festivals shrinking or closing down, websites going offline, etc. That said, every motion has its contrary motion, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some people getting much more deeply into witchcraft as its pop-culture presence unravels.

    Jen, what makes Iowa important just now isn’t its role in the nomination process (which is vastly too long, no question). It’s the impact the bizarrerie there is having on Democratic and independent voters, who have been left trying to figure out whether the Dem’s sudden inability to count was a function of incompetence or corruption. To use marketing jargon, the optics are very bad indeed — and those count for a great deal at the beginning of a campaign, you know. As for illegal immigrants, of course the privileged classes benefit from a massive cheap labor pool that has no rights that can be enforced; those of us who can’t afford nannies, housekeepers, gardeners, et al., but would be happy to pay a little more for fruit so that American families can earn a living wage, have the right to our own opinions in the matter, though.

    Sgage, in other words, Trump has another winning issue. Remember that his whole strategy is to goad his opponents into melting down in outrage, so that their shrieks will strengthen his support among his base — in this case, the vast majority of Americans, who would be delighted to see architectural “diversity” put down like a rabid weasel so we can have an attractive, meaningful, and culturally relevant built environment again.

    Patricia M, fair enough!

    Someone, thanks for this.

    David BTL, my guess is that either outcome will split the Democratic party straight down the middle. If Sanders gets the nomination, a large chunk of the Democratic party that doesn’t support socialism will sit out the election or vote for Trump (the way quite a few Bernie supporters did in 2016); if the party shuts Sanders out, expect his supporters to do the same thing. They really are on the horns of a dilemma at this point!

  291. More on Rabies:

    “If a game warden comes out to collect that oddly behaving raccoon on your lawn…”

    …then you must live in the land of Oz, because you sure as hell don’t live in the U.S.

    Was anyone else alarmed by the charmingly naive notion that the U.S. is rabies-free? Nobody told that skunk last spring. And no one has any idea how many unlicensed, unvaccinated dogs are out there—not only the ones owned by people who can’t afford to have their dogs vaccinated, but feral puppies born to feral mothers.

  292. @SarahJ,

    My sympathies to your family, having myself had to endure a similar situation a few years ago after my son was born very premature and discharged requiring 24 hour nursing care. I strongly resented having to do the twice weekly dance of ‘I’m just a normal middle-class person, nothing to see here, definitely no post-natal depression or crazy woo stuff like co-sleeping’ on six hours of broken sleep for 12 incredibly stressful months.

  293. I hadn’t heard about the freeze-dried garlic study. Do you have any info on garlic powder?

    I’ll send a picture on Halloween of me walking my cabbage.

  294. Regarding the origins of modern architecture, it’s worth noting that the founder of the modern movement, Mies von der Rohe, was inspired by none other than Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West”.

  295. @David, by the lake

    I doubt very much that Sanders will become the democratic nominee. If the DNC don’t take him out behind the woodshed again then I fear his health issues will be his undoing (running a strenuous campaign so soon after heart surgery is not recommended for anyone, least of all someone close to becoming an octogenarian).

    Creepy Pete seems to be the flavor of the month atm but without the black vote he is ultimately doomed too.

    My best guess is that Amy Kombucha ends up as nominee and the troops will rally around her.

    Suffice to say that my vote has not been earned by any of the above and will not be exercised come November (barring an upset of biblical proportions, Andrew Yang – the only candidate that actually addresses the issues – will also drop out eventually and focus on 2024, or even a shot as a running mate).

  296. @JMG,

    It gets better! The headline I quoted above was from an article in their ‘Critic’s Notebook’. Here’s the official NY Times editorial position:

    “What’s So Great About Fake Roman Temples?

    A spectacular campaign to elevate the design of federal buildings is under threat from small-minded classicists.”

    Simply unbelievable. Unless you are familiar with the present day NYT. It is nothing like the paper I grew up with in the 60’s and 70’s…

  297. Re: The Chicago School:

    There are two other influences that need to be noted alongside The Chicago School.

    1) The Austrian School, where the Laissez-Faire idea of economics was first developed, from where The University of Chicago got their people.

    2) Ayn Rand, who popularized the ideas in her writings.


    My ancestry is mostly German and English (many relatives surnamed Saxon) as well as a tablespoonful or so of Cherokee and a dash of a few other European ethnicities. The Saxon has begun to hate. She has developed a cold hard hatred of the salary and investment-class predators, as have many other people of all sorts of backgrounds. My question is, what’s the next step? Marxism and socialism have failed wherever they have been tried. The predators will block us from trying Capitalism. Social democracy doesn’t seem possible in the U. S either, although it might come after the greed-is-good generation has died off. For now, voting seems to do no good. Maybe we should try class-action lawsuits? Such suits would be heard by an investment-class judge, but they do get publicity. Does anyone else have any ideas?

  299. @shewhoholdstensions

    Thanks for the “By Hand and Eye” link! I thoroughly enjoyed looking through their site.

  300. Mr. Greer, do you see the influence of the Critical Race Theory/Social Justice types reaching Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution levels in the near future?

  301. Relatively good news: did a little surfing and factories making medical supplies could be running in 6 weeks to 6 months. I hope this will be the end of that just-in-time supply nonsense.

  302. Excellent quote from the Witch – and – devotee of Hekate – mentioned above: ” Excessive clinging to the light not only avoids the darkness where healing resides but can burn us to ash.”

  303. Dear Booklover,

    I’ll confess that when you mentioned “bauhaus” my first thought was the goth band who’s hit smash “Bela Lugosi is Dead” still haunts queer dance parties! Only after getting 80 pages into Kunstler’s _The Geography of Nowhere_ today did I understand the reference whatsoever.

    Perhaps this flagrant ignorance has more meaning than simply not knowing things — I, as an American, simply do not understand European culture, especially continental European culture. In my mind _Madame Bovary_, _Cousin Bette_, and _Nana_ are, at least in my memory, utterly indistinguishable novels. Likewise, so much of the European theory and aesthetic is, to my mind, so finely spun of the same cultural stuff that I can hardly distinguish it.

    That said, the Bauhaus movement seems to me utterly horrendous, at least as according to Kunstler! All three novels that I cannot tell apart in my memory are at least all really good.

    Dear David,

    Interesting! Well, it sounds like you live in a really nice house. I get your point, but I think I may disagree — newer homes sadly don’t simply lack soul, they often have souls that are of the nastier sort. A neighbor of mine has extreme health problems that seem to mirror, to my untrained appraisal, very precisely the sort of things that feng shui predicts for a house constructed as such as the one she lives in…

  304. @WillJ,

    Another important nutrient with similar issues is vitamin B9 (folate) – there are differences between the synthetic versions, the form found in animal products and the vegetable form. A substantial majority of people have ‘issues’ in the pathways that convert one or more of these versions. In particular, the synthetic version is often poorly converted. This seems like it would be important to know for people on long-term restricted diets which cut out either plants or animal products and pregnant women (who need large amounts of B9 but may get significant nausea from eating a version which they don’t convert well, nausea which tends to exacerbate poor nutrition). Also, the fact that it may be necessary to eat organ meats or bivalves and not just ‘animal products’ to get enough (again, depending upon what and how much a particular person can convert and needs).

    Even at a population level, poor conversion of synthetics builds up in the blood and is statistically correlated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. This is problematic since a lot of countries heavily supplement flour, rice and processed foods with the cheap synthetic version.

    However, almost all studies on vitamin B9 assume equivalence between types, some studies don’t even report which type is used, a build up of the synthetic compounds in the blood is seen as ‘proof’ that supplementation with pills ‘worked’ rather than a potential indicator of non-conversion etc etc.

  305. @JMG:
    “I’ve begun to explore the possibility that modern architecture can be understood as a form of built schizophrenia — “schizotecture,” in effect — and the Brutalist style would be the catatonic form. Knowing the origins of the case will be helpful.”

    I think you are onto something here. The late Polish psychologist, Dr. Andrew Lobaczewski, in his book Political Ponerology spoke of the “schizoid psychpathic” personality.

    Scroll down to “Schizoidal Psychopathy” and you will get a good description of the upper echelons of the Professional Managerial Class. To wit:

    “[Schizoids] are hypersensitive and distrustful, while, at the same time, pay little attention to the feelings of others. They tend to assume extreme positions, and are eager to retaliate for minor offenses.

    Sometimes they are eccentric and odd. Their poor sense of psychological situation and reality leads them to superimpose erroneous, pejorative interpretations upon other people’s intentions. They easily become involved in activities which are ostensibly moral, but which actually inflict damage upon themselves and others.

    Their impoverished psychological world view makes them typically pessimistic regarding human nature.”

    “The main features of schizoidia (or schizoid personality disorder) are dull emotions and a lack of feeling for psychological realities, and it is probably inherited autosomally. Their lack of emotion allows them to develop their speculative reasoning, which is useful in non-humanistic disciplines (e.g., economics and political theory).”

    And finally…
    Schizoidal Declaration: Schizoids often betray their characteristic view of human nature in their statements and writings.

    ‘Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea.’

    … Such open schizoidal declarations are apparent in the works of Marx and Engels, Hobbes, and various leading neoconservative intellectuals.”

    So, there you have the “second tier” of our ruling class. The “first tier” consists of straightforward explicit psychopaths as described by Cleckley, Hare, et. al. as evidenced by our ruling kleptocracy.

  306. David, no, medieval culture generally had three castes — those who fight, those who pray, and those who work. Merchants weren’t seen as a separate caste until later — their rise, in fact, marks the end of the Middle Ages as effectively as anything else. Remember also that most Mediterranean countries in ancient times, Greece among them, didn’t have a clerical/religious caste at all. Georges Dumezil used to argue that the four-caste system in India was the odd one out, and came into being because the three Indo-European castes were placed over a fourth caste of conquered and enslaved native peoples.

    Violet, yes, exactly. Take incoherent proportions, add a deliberate rejection of beauty and meaning, and use the result with a total disregard of the energetics of the surrounding landscape, and you’ve got a recipe for architecture that makes people sick and crazy — thus, schizotecture.

    Arkansas, thanks for this.

    Mark, I’m fascinated to see that. Of course he and Auden miss the point that society doesn’t have to be progressing toward some allegedly glorious future for individuals to have perfectly good lives. That’s the supreme blindness of the myth of progress!

    David BTL, if “unleashed” means shouting bizarre insults at voters who ask reasonable questions — what on earth is a “lying dog faced pony soldier,” anyway? — I think he needs to be back on the leash — or maybe back on his meds.

    Lathechuck, thanks for this.

    Marlena, of course he did. Sullivan knew how to make big buildings that still embraced the human scale. His work really does trace out one of the paths we could have taken.

    Levi, thanks for all of this!

    Will, I suspect that’s part of it.

    Onething, good for your son-in-law. As for your question, to my mind it all ties back into the rise of the managerial class in the wake of the Second World War; they ran a lot of experiments — the creation of suburbia was one of the more destructive of those — without getting the consent of the people who were being affected, and the results were not good.

    Rita, thanks for these. See my comment about intrusive petty tyrants…

    Your Kittenship, it’s been quite a while since I kept up on herbal news, so I don’t have the reference. The one thing to keep in mind is that if it doesn’t smell like garlic, it won’t help your heart.

    Phil K, what, was he trying to hurry it along?

    TJ, we still don’t know anything but rumors and guesses, hyped by various news and internet sources. Keep watch on the numbers from outside China.

    Sgage, “small-minded classicists.” I love it. I wonder, if you put it to a vote, how many people would support an attractive neofederal-style building vs. an amorphous glass and steel turd?

    Your Kittenship, voting means nothing until it’s backed up by grassroots organization. That’s the thing the system has been desperately trying to keep people from remembering: individuals and communities can organize to overturn a corrupt system. It’s happened many times already in our history and it will happen many times again.

    Patricia M, you just got pranked. Duffel Blog is the military equivalent of The Onion. Some other stories from the same source are “US Sees Shadow, Predicts Ten More Years of War On Terror” and “Master Sergeant Beats Discrimination Charge By Proving He Hates Everyone Equally.”

  307. Says Rita,

    ” I noticed something on Facebook the other day about some state proposing to deny hunting licences to anyone receiving public benefits, such as food stamps.”

    Wow, that wouldn’t go over too well here. Lots of people on benefits, and most of them hunt.

  308. Aidan, quite the contrary. I see them turning into the kind of bitter failed radical I used to see in the Marxist splinter parties of Seattle in my teen years in the late 1970s. They’ve already lost the initiative and Trump and his followers are getting increasingly adept at getting them to say things that alienate potential supporters. For the social justice movement, it’s all downhill from here.

    Your Cutekitten, fortunately, we’ve got a lot of biomedical research here in the US and so the necessary equipment and facilities are already in place.

    Michael, interesting. Thanks for this! I simply noticed that modern architecture falls neatly into the old system of catatonic (Brutalism), hebephrenic (Postmodernism), paranoiac (Deconstructionism), and simple (ordinary cheap slap-together ugliness) forms of schizophrenia. That said, I’ll take a look at Lobaczewski.

  309. I seriously question the effectiveness of garlic powder. My understanding of allicin is that it is created when a clove is cut or crushed and takes about 10 minutes to develop. I’m not sure if all of garlic’s usefulness comes from the allicin. I have on hand an expensive garlic supplement from England in which they patented a process to concentrate and stabilize the allicin. It’s a liquid. I would use it for acute illness and to kill cancer stem cells.

  310. Nancy Pelosi is trying to bully social media sites into banning a parody video of Pelosi ripping up
    Trump’s State of the Union speech. Thus far, the tech giants and media companies have refused to comply with her censorship demands.

    I wonder if Pelosi realizes just how gods awful her behavior looks and just how much damage she is doing to her own side?

  311. Re Bauhaus

    I always kind of liked the Bauhaus style of internal decoration, in the right context – lots of reasonably well made (since German), cheap and cheerful stuff in primary colours with interesting forms – it feels sort of playful and energetic to me. Great for kids spaces or energetic meetings. Not so good for quieter or more formal spaces. Possibly disorienting and alienating if you aren’t in the mood or easily overwhelmed by ‘loud’ visual inputs.

    However, dear me, the externals of Bauhaus buildings are UGLY! It seems like an odd disconnect – spare, concrete and glass, factory style exterior with a kindergarten aesthetic interior??? It’s like people decided they were stuck with Brutalist exteriors and decided to go overboard trying to make it fun and homey on the inside.

  312. Regarding Trump’s architecture executive order, as usual Trump is great at highlighting a long festering but taboo issue and then offering a ham fisted solution that doesn’t really solve the problem at all, but gets people thinking and changes the Overton Window. In any case, although I prefer Palladio to Bauhaus, I don’t think the problem is aesthetics per se.

    The original sin was making things car scale and not human scale. Leon Krier is my favorite prophet on this issue but it’s going to be a long war given that car driven architecture does have many benefits for the 99% (cheap housing, privacy) as long as oil is relatively cheap. Also, we’ve built so much of it that we can’t just flip the switch back to Ye Olde Main Street. It’s gonna be a painful transition.

    As others have noted, another dimension is climate appropriate vernacular architecture. The standard in the U.S. is the wood frame open plan ranch house, a style that makes some sense in California’s unique environment – earthquakes favor flexible frames, mild climate requires neither heat nor air-conditioning – but is pretty dumb outside of this zone as it requires massive energy inputs to keep the home livable.

    Even within California, what would make more sense are tile/metal roofs (fire threat, rainwater capture), stucco siding and hardscaping around homes instead of lawns, which many people do. Regardless of climate, it seems that the 3 story building in a walkable neighborhood is the Goldilocks zone for human happiness, from Boston to San Diego. It’s a compromise typology of course, but the tradeoffs get harsh in either direction.

  313. It’s occurred to me that the trade war against China has somewhat prepared us for supply chain issues surrounding the coronavirus in China, as many companies moved production elsewhere, such as Vietnam. Score one for the Trumpster. This, Mueller, Impeachment, he wins even when he isn’t trying. His -everything- seems to be aligned at the moment.
    Barring an upset, it’s likely Sanders or Buttigieg for the nomination, IMO. Warren is dropping, and Biden and Bloomberg are establishment types. Buttigieg is uninteresting to me, though. He’s the US version of France’s Macron. He’s currently a useful foil for the media against Sanders.
    If Sanders gets the nomination, it’s a sure Trump win, the powers that be will never let someone like Sanders into office, even if it means electing Trump. Then they can turn around and excoriate the “socialists”/BernieBros for 4 years and blame them for Trump. (They’ll fold white BernieBros in with white “extremists” and further intensify their villanization of white people.) Obama has gone on record saying he won’t allow Sanders to win. I’ll still enjoy the Trump/Sanders debates.
    I’m voting Tulsi in the primary but she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at this point I think. Sanders needs to snap her up for VP, stat.
    CA goes to the polls March 3rd. Sanders holds the lead so far in the state, and a win in CA would be a big deal.
    I’d love to know why ANYONE would vote for Biden!!!

  314. Over here in Nova Scotia, one seemingly small thing that really galls me about the more mundane modern style of architecture is how you can’t open the windows. I lived in Europe for a while, and even in many of the ugly post-war buildings, you can open the windows wide open at home and in the office. Here in Halifax, in many buildings you can’t open the windows at all. I can understand that you can’t open the windows in a skyscraper, but in 4 story office buildings? It’s terrible.

    In many buildings, they are designed in such a way that there are often many interior rooms with no windows at all, and office workers spend their entire working day without seeing any sunlight. Again, in Europe, large older buildings always had courtyards inside them, with trees, so that every room in the building had windows. It’s awful that here in a province with an abundance of wilderness, people seek to shut it out. No wonder we have problems relating to the natural world.

  315. It strikes me, reading the article about MSG, that this is exactly why the obesity crisis in America will probably not be solved without some sort of collapse of the current economic system.

    Using MSG increases the profit margins of the food industry. The same applies for using large portions of cheap processed food. So trying to resolve it at the dietary level would mean lower profit margins for the food industry, which they obviously don’t want.

    On the exercise end, this has been stifled by car culture and unwalkable cities, and also by modern technology and delivery culture, as well as by social movements that de-emphasize sports (because “toxic masculinity”), discourage kids from playing outside (and potentially – *gasp* – unsupervised!, because “it’s dangerous”). It’s a lot harder to exercise (and to want to exercise) when you have to go out of your way to exercise (and no, putting the occasional PSA on TV telling kids to play outside an hour a day does not help; even if your parents made their kids, it wouldn’t encourage them because it would feel like a chore – and time the parents have to waste, too, since heaven forbid the kids play outside alone. So trying to resolve it at the exercise level would mean lower profits for the technology industries as well as challenging certain cultural narratives.

    Plus, the notion of sacrifice as a whole goes against the grain of the current system. Sacrifice means deliberately giving up or going without something that, if people actually did, would cost someone money somewhere.

  316. ” I simply noticed that modern architecture falls neatly into the old system of catatonic (Brutalism), hebephrenic (Postmodernism), paranoiac (Deconstructionism), and simple (ordinary cheap slap-together ugliness) forms of schizophrenia.”

    Couldn’t modern society in general be described as schizophrenic, with each type represented? The TV and internet addicts are catatonic; nearly all of our collective thinking is so utterly disorganized as to be nonsense; the prevalence of conspiracy theories displays a deep rooted paranoia; and delusions in general fill so much of our current thinking……

  317. Violet, thanks for the comment! I myself don’t know very much about European bourgeois literature, because my interest lie elsewhere. The Bauhaus style originally was indeed a style, but from the beginning, its hallmark was the rejection of traditions and older forms, which were seen as tainted by the ballast of presumably being culturally obsolete. My father has an apertment in the Corbusier house in Berlin, and one of the problems is that one can’t open the windows, when one wants to let air in, one must open the door of the balcony. In summer, it tends to get too warm in the apartment. The corridors are ugly, but otherwise, there are worse buildings. A further problem, unrelated to the buiding as such is, that for access to the city, one needs to drive the S-Bahn, which is nearby, and which is not a problem, so long as it operates..

  318. John Michael wrote, “With epic inevitability, the functionaries of the former colonial government admitted that yes, of course colonialism was a bad thing, and of course change is necessary, but the native peoples can’t possibly administer their own affairs, you know, so the best choice for everyone is a power-sharing arrangement that allows the former colonial functionaries to keep their present positions while paying a little more attention to the needs of the native population.”

    You certainly hit that one on the head. We now have none other than the illustrious Cambridge University putting out studies about how to “save democracy” by power-sharing with the citizens. Such a novel concept — did they come up with that all by themselves? They recommend proportional representation, a constitutional convention, and citizens’ assemblies in their desperate attempt stem the tide of separatist movements. Surely the natives would prefer power sharing with benevolent England rather than face all the difficult decisions they would get confused by were they autonomous.

    So Brexit seems to have woken up a few clueless academics to the expanding populist realignment. But I doubt that their quickly sweeping the most visible corruption under the carpet, while feigning a newfound commitment to “ensuring that citizens are engaged and empowered with a genuine voice over their democracy” is likely to win many Scots back at this late juncture. Certainly their citizens’ assemblies appear to come from a very worn playbook when they recommend the assemblies “be used at the local level in a systematic and embedded manner to deal with complex and contested issues.” Just another tool to be used by the managerial elite to give a populist patina to their edicts and mandates.

  319. On the election: I will vote my choice in the primary, and watch with interest to see what Florida does. In the general election I will vote the candidate my party picks, even if I have to hold my nose to do so, and fully expect the election to be as full of dirty tricks and snafus as any election on record. When the election is over I will not treat it as either The Apocalypse or The Second Coming, even if it means being stuck with the schmuck for the rest of my life, if that should prove to be 4 years or less. If not, well, here’s to 2024.

  320. Still on mortality trends:

    This paper from the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, unfortunately behind a paywall, shows mortality in the USA for each age group. The group from 25-64 years stopped improving mortality in 2010 and started an upward trend in mortality, which accelerated every year until 2016. The trend is even sharper for the narrower group 25-44 years. In 2017 (the last year the authors had access to), the rise in mortality became slower. And according to the data I posted above, mortality in these age groups fell in 2018. The paper goes on to break the numbers down by cause of death – the curves for “drug poisoning” (no euphemism here) in the age groups 25-64 years are absolutely shocking. They also show the trends in life expectancy for selected US states – NY was middle of the pack in 1959, much below Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, and then surged past all of them starting around 1990 (NAFTA ?).

    This Washington Post article> referencing the same paper, shows a map of the increase in midlife mortality by state.

    All of this is the clearest statistical evidence in favor of JMGs globalist vs populist narrative that I have yet seen, and I must say that I withheld judgement from when he first wrote about this in Jan 2016 till now.

  321. Interesting article, if I’m reading you correctly you seem to give the managerial elite the benefit of the doubt in so far as you assume their intentions are good, even if their actions are misguided. I however believe I see a mocking contempt for the ordinary people in the actions of our rulers, and I wonder how different things would be if their actions were motivated by pure malice.

  322. This post is about the Corona virus situation:

    The link below (at the bottom of thius post) is a good presentation about the coronaviurus. The presenter (Chris Maartensen) is familiar with China and its role in the world economy and has done pathology research although he is not a physician. The conclusions are rather alarmist but apparently are true.

    View this, not to panic, but to understand what the world is up against, and how to minimize your risk of getting infected. Despite the pretty alarmist tone (probably justified) there is some important new information in it.

    At present the disease fortunately is NOT
    (yet) epidemic in the US. But it is increasingly likely to become so throughout the world, not just in Asia.

    Transmission is is happening not only by means of contaminated surfaces (on which the virus can persist for days) and visible droplets (from coughs and sneezes) which are capable of traveling only a few feet, but —VERY IMPORTANTLY — also by means of aerosolized microscopic driplets that can travel much further.

    The death rate appears to be much higher than thge ordinary seasonal flu, and the transmisiblity (r0) is much higher than the flu or SARS or MERS. Apparently about half the people infected are being infected by people who have thge virus but are asymptomatic.

    This is a very bad news epidemic. I would not be surprised if we are going to see some very draconian measures put into effect thgroughout the world (as is currently being done in China).

    As there is no proven cure, and as there will be no vaccine soon enough, measures to reduce transmission are the only alternative to letting this burn itself out. And unless these measures really work, this disease may become a public health disaster as bad as or worse than the 1918 influenza epidemic.

    Some common sense takeaways (observe them as soon as there is any evidence that human to human transmission is occuring in your country).
    1. Avoid unnecessary use of public transport (particularly planes, and cruise ships, but also buses and trains).
    2. Wash hands before eatting or touching face
    3. Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you for when you can’t wash. Use it immediately after touching surfaces that anyone coiuld have touched. That includes gas pumps, ATM machines, and pens used by other people in offices. Dilute chlorine bleach and alcohol/water sprays fortunately do disinfect efficiently.
    4. Postpone elective surgery until the epidemic is over. During an epidemic you don’t wan’t to be in a hospital unless it really is necessary. Postpone routine doctor visits until the epidemic is over. A doctor’s waiting roomn may have people sneezing and coughing in it.
    5. Realize that during an epidemic going to restaurants, movies, churches, or any other public places increases your risk of catching ther disease.

  323. Re: promotion of the Chicago School and laissez-faire economics. @Godozo above noted that Ayn Rand was a major popularizer of the idea (in Atlas Shrugged).
    To close the loop on two threads here: many aspiring architects read Rand’s other famous book The Fountainhead, which was about a the struggles of a heroic modern architect against the hidebound establishment. Today, of course, they have become the hidebound establishment, and the neo-classicists are the strugglers.
    Ayn Rand has a lot to answer for…

    A typical rant from the architectural establishment can be found on Faceplant. I briefly worked for the writer 35 years ago, before he got the “FAIA” after his name. I don’t know if he read The Fountainhead as a student.

    The writings of Prof. Nikos Salingaros are a great dissection of the problems of modern architecture. The blog of David Brussat is by a Providence based writer and editor trying to promote a return to a more humane architecture.

  324. @ JMG

    Re Biden

    “Biden Unhinged” might be more accurate. Now there’s this:

    Senility of the elites, indeed…

    @ Evan, JMG

    Re the Dem nom

    Sanders is running strong, but I’d agree that I have a hard time seeing how the DNC allows him the nomination. Of course, the worst-case scenario for the DNC would be for Bernie to get the nomination in spite of obvious maneuverings by the party leadership to block him. Yes, I’d agree with John that we’d be watching a wholesale split of the party if that were to happen. (And perhaps, as you suggest, that’s what’s occurring anyway.) Super Tuesday looms large. Even tomorrow is going to be quite interesting to watch.

    @ Violet

    Re houses and spirits

    I hadn’t thought of malignant forces, but that does make sense. One element I know that’s in play is the presence (or lack thereof, in our case) of televisions–something I’m very aware of when visiting at other’s houses.

    I ultimately have to give credit where credit is due with re to our house. It is a modest domicile (on the working class side of a working class town, as I like to say) and it is truly my wife who has the artistic ability, the home repair skills, and the experience working with contractors. I merely provide funds, occasional unskilled labor, and generally stay out of the way!

    On a completely different topic, I just put in an order for your book. At some point in the near future, if you’d be willing, I’d like to pick your brain about your experience with Lulu, as I see it as a possible vehicle for some of my non-fiction writing.

  325. Regarding “Plato’s Republic, that fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings spouting ‘noble’ lies and sending heavily armed Guardians to enforce their will, so that human beings could be made to behave the way that Plato thought they should behave.”

    Let’s zero in on the money phrase: “… the way that Plato thought they should behave.”

    You are making two claims here.

    First, you know with certainty *why* Plato wrote the Republic, what Plato’s motive and intent was in penning his tome. Impressive. You know *why* how?

    Second, Plato wrote the Republic to *advocate* for a fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings.

    Try this the next time you read the Republic: In what way is the Republic, the City in Speech, a *reductio ad absurdum* argument *against* a fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings?

    That, in any case, is how I taught the Republic to university undergrads back in the day.

    Be careful of reading history backward as one grand internally consistent narrative rolling coherently and ineluctably to the transformative eternal NOW.

    Lastly, the excellent argument you make here about the managerial elite does not require reaching all the way back to Plato. You could have reached no farther back than FDR and the erection of his leviathan Civil Service State. Pulling Plato into this mess is, well, kind of cringy.

  326. Saw this from Tom Whittle today apparently HK University study in the Lancet..
    ” The virus is akin to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It appears to be tracking the 1918 death rate at about 2.3 percent (20 times that of the usual winter flu) to the extent that government figures can be believed.” A bit early for real numbers perhaps. I am still amazed they (?) could so quickly get high-specificity detection kits in bulk supply for an unknown virus. (I am not paranoid about accidental bioweapon release, Just amazed at the technology. I was in the business once-upon-a-time developing highly accurate / specific molecular virus detection. Things have moved on.)

    Phil H
    A big thanks BTW for whoever for the comment this week that gave us WH Auden’s summing up the Roman Empire. I have been thinking something similar for a while now, but the poet put it in a nutshell!

  327. “David, no, medieval culture generally had three castes — those who fight, those who pray, and those who work. Merchants weren’t seen as a separate caste until later — their rise, in fact, marks the end of the Middle Ages as effectively as anything else. Remember also that most Mediterranean countries in ancient times, Greece among them, didn’t have a clerical/religious caste at all. Georges Dumezil used to argue that the four-caste system in India was the odd one out, and came into being because the three Indo-European castes were placed over a fourth caste of conquered and enslaved native peoples.”

    Hi JMG – well I appreciate you debating this but unfortunately it is not possible in this format to go deeper into it as I think I see where you coming from but what you say here could spark alot of debate..

    Merchants don’t have to be seen to be a separate caste to be one – People who directly organise and mediate disputes between workers and craftsmen just are different in kind (cast from a different mold) from those workers and craftsmen. In the same way running a football league is of a different kind to running a football team within a league. However they are in the same overall class of workers! in the same way the philosophers-kings and warriors are both in the same overall class of Guardians.

    I guess are you thinking of caste as defined as a rigid system of roles that are strictly hereditary? Or would you define caste as the kind of calling a person has in life – they are cast in a certain mold and cannot during their life re-mold themselves to another caste. So if your calling is to be a craftsman you cannot with self-conscious effort became a warrior and succeed truly, in ttis view! However you could be born of parents of any caste (caste is only partly hereditary).

    It is interesting that the early caste system in Vedic India was fluid – a person was a Brahmin if they were lovers of truth whoever there family was…(e.g very early story of Satykama)

    Dumezil surely knew about the untouchables who were the aboriginal natives people and a 5th caste…?

  328. JMG-
    Ah, I forgot about the regional factor in upper middle class lady behavior. My retail and waitressing experience was all “back home” in Michigan, where perhaps Midwest Niceness overrode the tendency to turn Nouveau-riche Nasty.

    [And if I may, in case Kimberly doesn’t get back to this thread, I think she was responding not to your observations, but to Lady Cutekitten, who actually did say of the group, “Their influence helped to destroy a society in less than a century.” It seems to me that the claim deserves examination.]

    Do you know (or does anyone here) of any scholarly sources on the construct of ‘noblesse oblige’? As you have mentioned before, this would be a useful concept for the currently over-privileged to take into account. My wheels are turning about how this concept could be “marketed”, so to speak, to the demographic group of upper middle class white women in a way that openly acknowledges their privilege and encourages an appropriate response to it, turning their deep guilt to a useful force. Among the many difficulties would be developing safeguards against the busybody, interfering outsider tendencies described by SarahJ and TamHob, and staying far, far away from the Rescue Game. (I know that a lot has already been written about the Lady Bountiful act that could be drawn in here.) Anti-Pokenose education would certainly have to be a large part of the program. My first thought would be to leverage the group’s tendency towards self-focus into an insistence on their obligation to clean up their own acts first. (That ought to keep them busy for a while! It certainly absorbs me.) Minding one’s own business, after all, involves not only refraining from bothering other people, but also actively attending to your own proper concerns. Any Green Wizard can attest that there are plenty of absorbing projects out there that don’t involve bossing other people around. (I’m picturing these ladies hauling rocks in Fernglade, though I’d never inflict that on Chris!) And attending to spiritual matters can take multiple lifetimes, at least according to this one guy I know.

    Perhaps their sense of outrage could be steered away from less productive outlets, like indulging in TDS and knitting funny pink hats to march in, and that same hate and anger could be directed back towards the media and marketing forces that constantly whip up their discontent in order to turn them into voracious consumers and political drones, the white-lady wendigos. An angry rejection of that manipulation could maybe then morph into proud and joyful reclaiming of their crone skills (h/t to Kimberly Steele for that image, though marketing crone status in a youth-obsessed culture would certainly be a job. Perhaps they can learn to knit Cthulu faces with Lady Cutekitten? Or save more cats with Kimberly.) JillN’s suggestion to “perform whatever kindness comes to hand” can certainly keep anyone with their eyes open for the opportunity busy full-time, and her suggestion to go dancing afterwards sounds a lot more fun than more shopping.

    There is irony, I admit, in my thinking about how to change this group’s consciousness, instead of, for example, going out to weed my own garden. But it seems to me that someone like myself with a foot in both worlds might be able to be a bit of a useful bridge, in some small way. I’ll take this idea off and work on it some more. (And more thinking and weeding will in fact happen at the same time later, after I’m done typing.) I apologize for being off-topic from this week’s post, but it seems to me that this train of thought is relevant to the blog’s larger focus on Ecosophia, wisdom seeming in short supply these days. Thanks for sharing yours.

    –Heather in CA

  329. Since architecture has become such a hot topic on this post, I thought I would contribute my own special disclosure.

    The last time a mass public was encouraged to take interest in public art was…under FDR’s New Deal.

    Between 1880 and 1930, modernism had emerged and had, by FDR’s time, entrenched itself in the high culture.

    FDR had promoted the aesthetic of Regionalism, which protrayed heroic, salt-of-the-earth rural Americans juxtiposed against corrupt urbanites.

    Modernists, centred around journals like Partisan Review, freely used the word “fascism” and “racism” (in the 1930s!) to regalize their aesthetic values and deviantize Regionalism: (From Eric Kaufmann’s “The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America”, p. 162-163)

    Meyer Schapiro, for example, declared:

    “The appeal to national sentiment should set us on guard, whatever its source. And when
    it comes as does Benton’s with his conceited anti-intellectualism, his hatred of the foreign, his emphasis on the strong and masculine, his un-critical and unhistorical elevation of the folk, his antagonism to the cities, his ignorant and violent remarks on radicalism, we have good reason to doubt his professed liberalism”

    Schapiro also assailed the “reactionary character” of Frank Lloyd
    Wright’s populist vision of America and his co-author Baker Brownell’s “Nazi enthusiasm and vagueness about the folk … which he opposes to
    the landless immigrants with their ‘unnatural’ and un-American urban interests”. Meanwhile, Mary McCarthy, also of Partisan Review) criticized Regionalist Maxwell Anderson’s commercial suc-
    cess, declaring that it came not from intellectual competence, but froman appeal to “old-fashioned American symbols” . The New York art world of the 1930s was similarly disposed toward Regionalism, a subjectivity Stuart Davis under-
    scored by attacking the entire Regionalist school as fascist and racist.

    In response, Benton and his supporters (who represented the majority sentiment among the American art-consuming public) vilified both the
    New York radicals and abstract artists as being elitist and remote from the concerns of average Americans. This debate turned especially nasty
    when Thomas Craven, Benton confederate and art critic for William Randolph Hearst’s New York American) described Alfred Stieglitz, a prominent
    Village radical, as “a Hoboken Jew without knowledge of, or interest in, the historical American background”

  330. Hi John,

    It looks like James Howard Kunstler is on the same wavelength as you when it comes to uglicist architecture.

    As for me, my own suspicion is the cycle started with the collective psychotic breakdown that was the Great War, which in turn led to other forms of mass psychosis, from the Bolshevik and Nazi revolutions, to World War II and the Holocaust, to modernist and post-modernist art and architecture, to what William Lind has aptly described as Cultural Marxism, which in turn led to movements like Political Correctness and the Social Justice Warrior phenomenon. If one looks at the art and literature that followed in the wake of World War II, its pretty clear that a climate of nihilism and despair engulfed the West, particularly amongst the intellectual elites. This in turn helped trigger a downward spiral in the Faustian Culture while bringing the Shadow (in the Jungian sense of the term) bubbling to the surface. In light of this, it is not surprising that as Caesarism and the Second Religiousness begin to take hold in the Faustian Culture, that we are seeing a growing backlash against these destructive currents that arose in the wake of the Guns of August.

  331. Kunstler weighs in on the architectural debate:

    I particularly like the following paragraph…

    The religion of Progressivism (under various names) has been growing for over a century, based on the idea that the material abundance of techno-industrial societies should be centrally managed by national bureaucracies, finally leading to a nirvana of perfect fairness. The part that’s always left out is that this is accomplished by coercion, by pushing people around, telling them what to do and how to think, and by confiscating their property or docking their privileges if they seem to have too much of either. You can observe the operations of this doctrine in the current crop of Democratic Party aspirants to the White House.

  332. Speaking of Trump’s proposed executive order on federal architecture and the mass psychosis gripping the liberal establishment, have any of you seen the craziness coming out of liberal house organs such as the Atlantic Monthly and New Republic? Apparently, if you are in favor of sane architecture, you must be a Nazi and a racist with a set of white KKK robes hanging in the closet.

  333. @Lady CuteKitten

    A few thoughts re Wuhan virus –

    1) those cruise ship passengers were diagnosed on Friday, it seems to take at least a week or two to develop a ‘severe’ case, with some reports of people developing a severe case after first having very mild symptoms for a week or suddenly going down hill very fast after appearing to be mostly better (maybe due to something triggering a cytokine storm)

    2) that said, there seems to be a very bimodal illness progression at the moment with a large amount of infectious people who never get very sick and a large (compared to seasonal flu) amount of people who get very sick. Possibly that distribution is actually common with colds and flus – all those people who say they never get sick do actually get infected, it’s just that their symptoms are too mild to notice and we don’t do population wide blood testing to assess actual prevalence.

    3) actual stats are impossible without more observation of cases external the Chinese mainland however, I guess my main concern at the moment is how fast it spreads – it seems quite survivable for even most of the severe cases but a significant proportion seem to need a week or two of ICU support. The mortality stats will go up quite a bit if the ICU’s get flooded.

    4) Also, the high number of cases requiring basic hospitalisation has significant economic implications if the virus spreads fast. I think most basic hospital care could be provided through home nursing if necessary. However, both the nurses and the patients will need to take at least 3-4 weeks off work (assuming the home nurses don’t themselves develop severe cases). How many households in the world have that kind of spare capacity? What will be the economic impact on a country if a significant portion of its labour force doesn’t work over the 6 months it might take the virus to burn itself out (either sick or nursing)? Possibly, this is of more concern to the Chinese Communist party given the Chinese economy’s pre-virus issues and parlous banking system than the actual mortality rate. Ironically, the quarantines may cause more economic damage and deaths due to increasing the chaos and disruption than just allowing the virus to run its course.

  334. The title in the link below should come as no surprise to any of us, and it’s actually somewhat misleading. “Government agency” in this case refers to the Finnish government. And that’s important, because Finland can probably afford as well as anyone to look clearly into the future, without its vision clouded by the haze of imperial ambition and the financial conflicts that come from the US being a major oil producing country. (Just for the record, the US has been a major oil producer for decades. It’s also been a major oil refiner and consumer, hence oil importer, for most of that time.)

    So you should read this, not to learn something new about our natural world (oil is finite!?), but so that you know that the word is getting around. It’s a good time to start planning for a Post-Carbon society.

  335. Here are a couple of gems I came across.

    The first is a quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was an Assistant Secretary of Labor during the Kennedy administration and later became a very powerful and influential US Senator. It turns out it was Moynihan who drafted the infamous 1962 executive order on federal architecture that Trump is considering overturning. Moynihan wrote

    “An official style must be avoided. Design must flow from the architectural profession to the government and not vice versa.”

    According to the Atlantic Monthly

    In 1962, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary at the Labor Department, prepared a memo on the use of federal office space for President John F. Kennedy. Into this document he tucked a succinct yet deeply considered set of recommendations for the design of U.S. government buildings. These “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture” were adopted as official policy shortly thereafter and are seen as axiomatic by American architects and planners.

    So now we know where that particular bad idea came from…

    And here is one from Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, an American Vedic teacher and head of the International Sanatana Dharma Society. In one of his videos, he described modernist and post-modernist art as “exhibitions of narcissistic psychosis on canvas”. A case could be made that modernist and post-modernist architecture are the exact same phenomenon, but expressed in concrete, steel and glass.

  336. This is link to the Johns Hopkins University corona virus tracking site:

    You can use a button on the site to zoom in or out and see what is happening in your region.

    A question for those more mathematically gifted than me. What is the correct formula for estimating the mortality rate of a virus that is in the exponential growth phase of a pandemic.

    Two that I have seen proposed give WILDLY different results.

    1. Reported deaths / (Reported Deaths + eported recovered)

    2. Reported Deaths / Reported Total Cases

    Or is there a better formula than either of these?

  337. One great example of the pushback which is growing against post-modernist idiocy in the arts is Alma Deutscher, a 14 year child prodigy from England. She was told by art critics that she should give up writing beautiful music in order to compose music expressing the ugliness and complexity of modern life. To her credit, she refused and made this video in 2011. She has stuck by her guns ever since.

  338. Sez barrigan,

    “It strikes me, reading the article about MSG, that this is exactly why the obesity crisis in America will probably not be solved without some sort of collapse of the current economic system.”

    Oh yeah, try googling MSG, weight gain and rats.

  339. Decades ago our local newspaper used to have both an architecture critic and a ballet critic.

    The architecture critic thought anything built since Louis XIV was ugly. He eventually retired to France.

    The ballet critic’s career came to an abrupt end when she wrote that the prima ballerina’s hairy armpits were ugly. For weeks afterwards the condemnations came blistering off the pages of the Letters to the Editor until eventually they were forced to let her go. (She was the wife of my then-boss. We made sure never to mention the word ‘ballet’ in his presence.)

  340. About the question of the death rate of the coronavirus, it is important to ask oneself: “Cui bono?” whenever someone provides apocalyptic numbers. The situation in Germany, at the present, for example, is that 8 people out of 80 million are infected with the coronavirus; all cases in connection with the enterprise Webasto in Bavaria.

  341. Emily: As someone in the comments section who *has* looked at China’s 2020 mundane charts, I’d expect the coronavirus issue to linger, and I don’t think it’s out of the question that it brings down the CCP (or, for that matter, that something else does this year). I’m not entirely sure why this coronavirus is showing up *now* (a couple of astrology places I keep tabs on have floated an eclipse chart being involved, which might make sense), but both the Aries and Cancer ingresses for China have Jupiter in Capricorn ruling the sixth house and Uranus in Taurus (both in their fall) which seems consistent with a continued epidemic, and China’s Cancer ingress in particular looks *cataclysmically* bad in general. (Not entirely sure the symbolism would work right for an epidemic instead, but IIRC JMG posted a hypothetical in a comments section a while back for what he would expect an ingress to look like when a nation started a war that ended with it on the business end of a nuclear exchange and when I looked I noticed that China’s Cancer ingress hits literally every single point he listed except said chart’s Mars is strong by triplicity rulership rather than sign rulership.)

    (Fair warnings: 1) Some of the more modern mundane peeps who do more with transits have floated a coronavirus escalation late this month, and a couple of groups I keep tabs on who don’t have much to do with astrology have made comments consistent with that possibility. 2) In the slightly longer term, the US is one of the other countries likely to be unusually vulnerable to the coronavirus – DC’s Aries ingress has that fallen Uranus in the sixth house. Also, *somebody’s* getting walloped with something for the history books this summer – Cancer 2020 is a Sun-Moon conjunct chart. Might not be someone with a live Cancer ingress either – Cancer 2001 was clearly the 9/11 chart, despite DC’s Aries ingress that year having Taurus rising.)

    David BTL:FWIW, I currently have the odds of Bernie successfully landing the nomination at over 50% (though possibly only slightly over). Among other things, that would neatly explain a couple of features of the US Aries ingress – Neptune in the fourth house ruling the fourth house (the fourth house, of course, being the house of the opposition) and the weak Moon with Cancer intercepted (the chattering classes are ignored).

    Violet: I’m admittedly the high person here when it comes to Brutalism specifically. Unlike a bunch of modern styles, I tend to see an ethos in it and a couple of related styles (especially when surrounded by greenery), roughly “you are small and the world is vast and there are powers out there greater than you that don’t really care about you one way or another”. It’s finicky to use – I would be hesitant to use Brutalism for a living space – but in situations where that message fits I find Brutalism can work quite well indeed. (Public monuments come to mind, as do some research centers – that message can also be read “the world is vast and somewhat empty but there is so much to explore” [1].)

    But the anti-style of suburbia? There I completely agree with your assessment. (I’ve spent time around both trailer parks and upscale subdivisions; the trailer parks seemed more wholesome places to live.) It seems to get worse the newer the buildings are, too.

    (I tend to find the city centers marginally better than the outlying subdivisions/outlet malls, but your mileage may vary.)

    (The old Southern plantation neoclassical also seems to have issues to my eyes, but I think that’s less the aesthetics and more egregore corruption from what was done with it. Old-timey Southern buildings that aren’t built like a plantation don’t seem to have the same problem.)

    [1] – That’s basically the same sense Minecraft tapped into, now that I think about it.

  342. Just as an informational aside, I received a cooking magazine yesterday that was all ready to tell me not eating msg is racist. It made me laugh after reading this, since it really betrays how “coordinated” the news is. Why it’s almost like propaganda!!
    I’m also glad you are back!

  343. John,

    I hope I’m not too late to add my voice to the choir saying that the CNN article sounds exactly like a lady that doth protest too much?

    Migrant Worker

  344. Really excellent article about why we hate modern architecture although sadly, nothing will stop the elites from telling us that we’re all a bunch of architectural deplorables, because in their rarified bubble all this junk makes sense. I had not heard about the school of modern architecture called ‘blobitecture’ until I read it here, but if the shoe fits . . .

    There’s a reason one’s spirit gets an entirely different feeling upon entering a Gothic cathedral or a baroque church than in one of the ugly modern churches that have sprouted up (I’m looking at you, Roman Catholic Church, and your decades-long love affair with depressing modernism).

  345. Humorous headline of the day, courtesy of Breitbart News.

    “Electile Dysfunction: Biden Pulls Out Early From New Hampshire, Skips Own Victory Party.”

  346. Silly me. Magic Monday starts at the stroke of Midnight on Mondays… I’ll try to catch it next week. 🤣

  347. I’ve been using a percentage calculator to determine mortality rate on the coronavirus.
    Understanding that actual numbers are pretty iffy, the consistent death rate seems to be
    roughly around 2.3 percent of those who actually contract it. Originally I was guessing cases were doubling every two days but lowered that down to 1.5 times, though not being a math whiz my figures may be off. Even that seems a little too much now so either new cases are leveling off (perhaps due to the lock-down in China) or we are not getting all the numbers. It’s just too soon to tell.

    Possible wild cards for the next significant outbreak may be Pakistan which restarted flights to
    China about a week ago and North Korea which stubbornly insists they are virus free though
    rumors suggest there have already been some deaths there. Any country with a less than
    sterling health care system will be vulnerable but again it all comes down to what happens next.

    There’s definitely a considerable amount of hysteria in the news services that seems to be spreading faster
    than the virus and needs to be counteracted. A book I highly recommend is Spillover by
    David Quammen. While it was written back in 2012 it gives a very measured overview of
    how infections can cross over from animals to humans. I consider it far superior
    to the overwrought Hot Zone by Richard Preston.

  348. Jacurutu – I totally agree, World War I kicked off the entire ugly/surrealist/absurdist into high gear. We in the States were hit rather lightly by it: Britain and most of western Europe were utterly trashed out, and the old order as well. Especially with the returning solders, ambulance drivers, nurses, etc and their loved ones and widows all saying their leaders had led them like lambs to the slaughter. I’ve dipped into the war poetry of the period, and read Testament of Youth; that war was a very, very sharp break with – furious rejection of – the Victorian & Edwardian consensus. And statement that the world no longer made any sense to them.

  349. Dear Booklover,

    Fair enough! My point is simply that these architectural styles are about as alien as Aztec temple work to me — I simply do not understand what they mean or are supposed to mean, and so I can only go with my aesthetic interpretation rather than any theoretical extrapolations.

    Dear David,

    Thank you! I’d be delighted to discuss the experience of publishing on lulu with you. Briefly, I’ll note that it is very, very easy and user-friendly.

    Dear Pretentious_Username,

    Fair enough! I’m no fan of Souther Plantation architecture, either. The pillars, to my eyes, look all wrong and extremely tacky, as if the house were really a place of gambling. As for Brutalist architecture, I think part of the issue is that I don’t understand European cultural forms very deeply or well. To my mind, Oswald Spengler is in large part a figure of fun! I laugh when I read his books for the same reason I laugh reading the endless recursive irony of Borges! As such, I don’t think I can actually understand whatever merits Brutalist Architecture might possess. To my eyes, the buildings so labelled look absolutely vile and Kafka-esque, and seem to induce a reality that I abhor — that of the nastier and sleazier end of sci-fi. Phillip K. Dick’s High Castle would be, I imagine, a Brutalist high castle. The various scenes of Burroughs _Naked Lunch_ would, I imagine, be replete with Brutalist architecture.

    Basically, I simply do not understand Faustian Civilization, it’s inner meanings, and it’s basic ethos. Rather, I misunderstand it and misappropriate it towards the alien ends of the soil and climate that defines my soul, in the Spenglerian sense. I like classical music because it’s pretty, not because I can ever apprehend the inner meaning of it — and I prefer waltzes and foxtrots that allow for dancing! I like traditional architecture because it’s pleasing, not because it causes my spirit to soar nor even because I in any way understand it. I prefer corinthian columns to doric because I like the stone flowers and acanthus leaves and fluting, not because it means anything particular to me, but simply because I think it looks nice and find it comfortingly familiar.

    Undoubtedly, if Spengler were to look at me, he would decry me as a simpleton, a barbarian, and a primitive.

  350. Jacurutu, it’s a good sign that she realizes how awful she looks. Too many people with TDS literally have no idea how many people are giggling at them.

    TamHob, good. Now think about the attitudes expressed by that difference. “We on the inside deserve beauty; you on the outside don’t.” It reeks of exactly the attitude toward the masses that pervades the managerial class.

    Brian, while those are also issues, aesthetics also matter. When you make the built environment sickeningly ugly and culturally meaningless, using archictectural styles that reject beauty and erase history, that has effects that go very wide and deep. Aesthetics aren’t simply a matter of personal preference — especially in a situation like this one, where they function as a means of displaying and enforcing power.

    DT, so far things do seem to be lining up that way. We’ll see…

    Jbucks, I’d suggest that that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. More on this as we proceed!

    Barrigan, notice also the schizoid double-bind: the ad tells kids to play outside an hour a day, but they can’t do that unsupervised and their parents have to put in so much time at work making ends meet that they can’t be there to supervise the kids. End result, parents and kids alike can be blamed by the privileged for a situation the privileged themselves have created. A vast number of our current social problems follow the same pattern.

    Will, a case could be made!

    Christophe, that’s excellent news! If Cambridge is also waving the white flag, the war’s all but over. I hope they’re ready for the unconditional surrender they’re going to have to make.

    Bipeninsular, he’s definitely struck a nerve with this one.

    Patricia, thank you. That’s a rare sort of sanity these days.

    Matthias, thank you. It does look as though the numbers are supporting my argument.

    MikeP, no, I don’t think their intentions are good. They followed the usual trajectory from high ideals through the corruption of power to the current state of clinging to an authority they’ve long since forfeited in any but the crudest realpolitik sense — and sneering contempt for the people beneath them has been a standard habit of senile aristocracies for a very long time, and is certainly present this time around.

    Your Kittenship and Walter, thanks for both of these.

    Peter, I met Brussat at a writer’s get-together in Providence last year, and was favorably impressed. I hope his views get more distribution.

    David BTL, the penny finally dropped: Biden is trying to imitate Trump. He’s trying to seize control of the news cycle by the use of covfefe-style absurdities. I’m not sure he can make it work — he lack’s Trump’s skills as an entertainer — but it’s fascinating that he’s trying it at all.

    Mr.P, do/did you by any chance teach at a Catholic university? I ask that because everyone I’ve ever met who uses the cheap debater’s trick you engaged in here — pulling a sentence or phrase out of context, redefining it to imply whatever you want it to imply, and using it as a club to beat up your opponent and burnish your own ego — had some significant contact with Catholic education. Using the same trick, I could take your insistence that I should have stopped at FDR, insisted that this implies that you think all history before 1932 is irrelevant, and taken pot shots at you for something I’m quite sure you didn’t have in mind.

    Fortunately, that’s not the way we do things here. You’re welcome to apologize, but if one is not forthcoming, any other comment you try to make will go straight into the trash. I do not suffer trolls gladly, or at all.

    Phil H., interesting. Thanks for this.

  351. If anyone wants to experience some god-awful architecture, take a tour of the King County public library in downtown Seattle. It has glass floors that I felt I was going fall through. It’s cold, all glass and steel. Libraries are supposed to be cozy, warm, quiet and comforting. I spent gazillions of days in my youth holed up in school, public and college libraries. They always felt like home, even if everything was old, dusty and tired. Including the librarians. 💗

  352. @pretentious_username

    Your post prompted me to look at the 2001 ingresses for Kabul, Afghanistan. The Aries ingress has Libra rising, so the Cancer ingress is active for early September there. and the Cancer ingress has that Jupiter-New Moon-retrograde Mercury conjunction in the 9th house (ruling over religion and air travel) not far off from the Midheaven.

    And, of course, the US had a 7th house Mars during the inactive Cancer ingress… I think those need to be watched out for even if it is an inactive ingress.

  353. “Mr.P, do/did you by any chance teach at a Catholic university?”

    No, not a Catholic university, but a land-grant state university on the East Coast.

    I apologize for the irritated snarkiness of my comment (truly, sorry; I need to do better) but not for the challenge.

    To conserve space, I will not quote your entire paragraph but only the beginning and end of it so that readers can identify and refer to it in total. The paragraph starts and ends:

    “The ideology and mentality of the managerial class … the era of Trump and Brexit.”

    The claim you make in this paragraph is that the pretensions of today’s managerial class can be traced all the way back to Plato’s Republic.

    You actually say it: “Those readers with a taste for intellectual history can trace that notion all the way back to Plato’s Republic.”

    Furthermore, you claim, or at least imply, that Plato and Plato’s “fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings spouting ‘noble’ lies” are partly to blame for it — that is, for the pretensions of the modern-day managerial class.

    You will get no argument from me about the insidious pretensions of the managerial class, and I agree with you completely that “it had its greatest flowering … in the seven decades between the end of the Second World War and the era of Trump and Brexit.” I would state it along the lines of, the seeds of the Civil Service State were planted by FDR in the New Deal and grew like managerial weeds starting in the 1950s after WWII.

    My challenge is two-fold:

    (1) Your summarily calling Plato’s Republic a “fantastically dystopian Utopia of philosopher-kings” that somehow represents “the way Plato thought they (humans) should behave” constitutes a gross (as is non-nuanced) misreading of Plato’s Republic. My read of Plato’s Republic is the opposite: The dialogue is a *reductio ad absurdum* argument *against* a dystopian utopia of philosopher-kings. I refer you to the end of Book VII. For the City in Speech to be realized, Socrates says, “All those in the city who happen to be older than ten they (the philosopher-kings) will send out of the country.” Implication: Everybody over age 10 will be *purged* from the city into the countryside where they will most certainly die. *Reductio ad absurdum*.

    (2) Reading history backward as a coherent “History of Ideas” narrative through which a teleological theme develops to the present day is, well, dangerous. Not impossible, just dangerous, insofar as it risks all sorts of distortions, particularly the distortion of imposing on the past what we *need* to be true about the past to make sense of our present.

    Why did I bother to write my original comment and spend additional time writing this reply to your reply?

    Full confession: The years I spent studying and teaching the thought of Socrates changed my life. Plato’s Republic is a great book. In this particular paragraph of yours (cited above), I felt you did Socrates, Plato, and the Republic a great disservice, and it pissed me off, for which I apologize (the pissed off part).