Tag Archives: collapse

A Monstrous Mess (collapse & shared narratives)

A Monstrous Mess

Painting in broad strokes, I would say that the discipline era began with the industrial revolution and eventually ended due to backlash in the form of the 1960’s counterculture. And what did the discipline era produce? It produced greatest economic and population booms in the history of mankind, the eradication or cure of most of the world’s deadliest diseases, world domination by Western civilization, and eventually culminated with a trip to the moon. That’s not a bad track record, if you ask me.

The thing is–innovation, population growth, and economic growth hasn’t gone away–but it’s harder to detect or has been obfuscated by cultural decay. It’s like putting a big ugly Hillary 2016 bumper sticker on a Ferrari…it’s still a functioning sports car, but its’s less aesthetically pleasing. The trend in technology for the past few decades has been from macro-sized innovations (planes, rockets, skyscrapers, mainframes, etc.) to micro-innovations (smart phones, apps, biotechnology, semiconductors, computer science, neurology, nanotechnology, fuel cell technology, etc.). So why hasn’t post-60′s liberalism done more to hinder innovation? I suspect the private sector plays an important role in insulating innovation and economic growth from the deleterious social effects of far-left liberalism. If it weren’t for the private sector and the ‘ownership society’, then there would have been collapse long ago. These SJW-professors alone obviously can’t sustain a civilization. How long can this last….I don’t know, but if past performance if predictive of future results, maybe a very long time.

Below is video of Aaron Clarey discussing that although America may be in decline, it’s still stronger than the rest of the world by comparison, which I agree. The strength of the US dollar will forestall collapse, perhaps indefinitely, as the rest of the world, which is more corrupt and has slower growth, swirls the drain.

If you’re on team blue, focus on taking a more disciplined approach (maybe we can’t actually afford to educate every disabled child, and maybe black crime can’t always be blamed on white people…).

Agree.

Other parts of the essay are cringeworthy (but when I read an article, I try to judge it not by its weakest parts, but try to extract value and insight where it can be found), but the indented readership isn’t the far-right, or more broadly, the ‘dissent right’, who already have their minds decided; rather, the message is more nuanced and intended for the undecided, which broadens its appeal and actually makes the essay more effective (as measured by the ability to change as many minds as possible) than had it been too extreme, because by being too extreme, readers who are undecided tend to respond by mentally shutting down (hitting the back button) than being receptive to being nudged. In post-2013 online journalism, for maximum effectiveness, the goal is to nudge the reader to your intended conclusion, not push him.

Centrism and the ‘rational middle‘ (or what I call the ‘sweet, boring middle’) are seeing rapid growth, with articles that frequently go viral on ‘smart’ sites such as Hacker News and Reddit, as part of the rise of ‘shared narratives’–themes that cross political boundaries that can be used to shift the Overton window by forging common ground between high-IQ members of the ‘blue tribe’ and the ‘red tribe’. The most common narratives are a shared distrust of elites (and how elites are insulated from the consequences of their actions), skepticism or rejection of ‘majoritarian’ systems, and the premonition that America and or civilization is ‘going in the wrong direction’. Both sides can relate to Trump being a symptom of the times. This also ties in with the rejection of both low-information conservationism and low-information liberalism. But methods that appeal to rationalism and sanity won’t work on the far-left, who are more emotional and blindly conformist than logical.

Why Post-Election Revolt and Crisis is Unlikely, Part 2

In an earlier post, I argued that the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election would likely not lead to national upheaval, but I want to expand on it.

As the Great Depression showed, economic crisis does not necessarily lead to revolt. But historically speaking, revolt generally occurs during periods of extreme economic disruption and diminished well-being, typically as a consequence of war that indebts the nation. Second, it’s typically the wealthy, well-connected, and educated that foment revolution, not the poorest, which is kinda counterintuitive. But look at Donald Trump, who himself optimizes the ‘elite’, who rose to power by lending an ear to the concerns of millions of Americans when the other candidates seemed deaf. Che Guevara, Engels (who funded Marx), and Bin Laden – all had wealthy upbringings.

Revolution may also occur when the financial interest of elites are threatened, or if elites are able harness the frustrations of the proletariat to force a regime change. For example, there is evidence the American Revolution was the work of plantation elites:

According to von Borch, it was a colonial aristocratic elite espousing republican principles that articulated the revolt against England:

“Here we have what is, perhaps, the most deep-seated paradox in the emergence of America. The ‘Virginia dynasty’ of the first presidents of the independent federal State—Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe—came from precisely this planter aristocracy. Within that aristocracy there developed the powers and the ideas which made the colonies independent of England and gave them a free, if conservative, domestic regime. The revolution against England was planned on the dignified estates on the banks of the Virginia streams….

Consider the Russian Revolution, lead by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, which overthrew the Tsarist autocracy (specificity Tsar Nicholas II., who was executed along with his family as a consequence of the revolution). Extreme poverty, worker strikes, and joblessness following the first world war, that had significantly weakened the Russian Empire, were aggravating factors:

The war also developed a weariness in the city, owing to a lack of food in response to the disruption of agriculture. Food scarcity had become a considerable problem in Russia, but the cause of this did not lie in any failure of the harvests, which had not been significantly altered during wartime. The indirect reason was that the government, in order to finance the war, had been printing millions of ruble notes, and by 1917 inflation had made prices increase up to four times what they had been in 1914. The peasantry were consequently faced with the higher cost of purchases, but made no corresponding gain in the sale of their own produce, since this was largely taken by the middlemen on whom they depended.

But Lenin himself was an elite, born to a wealthy family and had a law degree. Generally, history shows revolutions are led by elites who put their comfortable lifestyle on hold to advance a cause. Disaffected people will not mobilize without someone in charge behind the scenes giving orders. This makes a second revolution in America less likely, as someone has to first rise to the occasion to get the ball rolling and bankroll the actual revolution. For example, George Soros and other elites who funded BLM.

Regarding war, debt, poverty, and revolution, other historical examples include the French Revolution, in which major financial crisis and debt due to France’s costly involvements in the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution, played a role. Same for the rise of Hitler, precipitated by Germany’s debt and weakened economy due to losing WW1.

However, although revolutions require a leader and considerable financial and organizational support, ‘lone wolf’ insurgencies don’t, and it’s possible there will be an upsurge in domestic terrorism should national sentiment decline substantially. As the 2002 Beltway sniper incident showed, which for nearly a month paralyzed much of the Maryland and D.C. regions with fear, the economic and psychological impact of terrorism are significant relative to the number of people and costs involved, which is why it’s effective and why governments expend so much resources trying to thwart terrorism. Same for the 1982 Chicago Tylenol poisonings, which attracted global media coverage and mass hysteria despite only seven deaths.

But, economically speaking, America is a long way from becoming like post-WW1 Russia. Around that time, 60-75% of the Russian population were illiterate peasants, so the conditions for revolution were a lot more ripe back then than now. Although US involvement in the Middle East has been costly, its nothing compared to the debt and hyperinflation that faced the Wiemar Republic.

Social media is like a portal to ‘Middle America’, and it’s not uncommon for middle class households to have multiple TVs, luxury brand automobiles, large SUVs, expensive iPhones with equally expensive phone plans, and designer clothes. Lifestyles were much more minimalist in earlier generations, mainly because people simply didn’t have the disposable income and credit to buy stuff. Since the mid 80′s, there has been an explosion in consumption as credit and nominal wages have surged, and technologies and free trade have make electronics and other tangibles cheaper and more accessible.

Inflation-adjusted consumer credit gained only slightly from 1965-1985 but began to surge afterwards and again in the mid 90′s.

The result is a higher standard of living – but perhaps at the cost of ‘community’, as explored by Robert Putnam in his influential 1995 essay Bowling Alone. As recently as a generation ago, entire families would gather to watch TV, because often they could only afford a single TV, to watch one of maybe a handful of shows that were available at the time. Nowadays, every family member has a personal computer and TV and can choose to watch one of thousands of shows by his or her own self, thanks to technologies like Netflix.

From Social Matter Escaping Muddied Experience:

American society has been structured so that natural experience is minimized and in its place are mediated experiences that an expert or team of experts have crafted, edited, framed, and even written for the individual. The mixing of true experience versus mediated experience is discussed in detail in Jerry Mander’s book Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television from the 1970s. This does not stop with television, but has morphed with the growth of the Internet. Television still reaches so many and has such power due to its physical effects.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems. Many millennials are struggling, the post-2008 recovery is uneven and hasn’t produced enough good-paying jobs, and millions of Americans have anxiety over job loss and or going broke if there is a medical emergency.

Although America seems (especially if you listen to the media) more divided than ever, such division has always existed. In the 60′s, it was division over segregation vs. integration. Perhaps the media is also playing role by focusing on the negatives and overlooking the positives, and this shapes people’s perceptions of the economy and society.

But the problem is, although Americans are far from starving to death, existential anxiety is a more intractable problem (you can’t just throw money at it and make it go away), and solutions are hard to come by. Material wealth and consumption doesn’t necessarily bring fulfillment or peace of mind. Maybe the answer is cheap and abundant entertainment. Maybe it’s religion. Maybe it’s promoting financial literacy so people will save for a rainy day and retirement (thus creating peace of mind) instead of frittering money on positional goods, although this may also hurt America’s consumption-based economy.

The Trajectory of America

From Social Matter: SWPLs, Amerikaners, The Alt-Right, And The Coming State

This passage stood out:

The system is decaying and unsustainable. It is increasingly liquidating a limited pool of capital to keep the economic charade going, while all the real productivity, and the culture of hardworking self-reliance that goes with it, goes overseas.

See one of three outcomes:

1. A continuation of what we have now, as the contributions of America’s smartest, most productive are sufficient to offset the decay, or as some call ‘entropy’ vs. ‘order’. In the tug-of-war between productivity vs. decay and parasitism, the former is still winning, although the gap may be narrowing. There is evidence of it narrowing (rising rates of out of wedlock births, growing entitlement spending, etc., for example), but also evidence it isn’t (technological progress, steady GDP growth, etc.).

I predict this will be the most likely ‘trajectory’ – a continuation of what we have now. Although there will more internecine strife and racial division in America, the general economy will remain intact, thanks mainly to the contributions of America’s most economically productive and America’s overall global economic dominance and strength, particularity for intellectual property.

This mistake is some assume that because there is some evidence of decay, that the whole system must fail.

America’s Protestant work ethic, punitive justice system, and culture of individualism that prizes merit, are probably contributing factors for America’s stability and economic success, compared to its peers that seem to constantly struggle with corruption, high inflation, and economic stagnation. Although East Asian countries score well on achievement tests and have high national IQs, their culture is a more collectivist one. Same for Northern Europe, which is also more collectivist than America.

Anatoly Karlin has done extensive research on this.

Related: Explaining America’s Economic and Social Stability

2. Figurative collapse – ‘entropy’ gradually wins, and the American economic and cultural hegemony is significantly weakened. The stock market may crash and fail to ever recover. There may be high inflation due to capital flight out of the US dollar and treasuries, as well as ‘cognitive flight’ of America’s smartest and most productive. In the process, America becomes more like Europe or Japan, as possibly China fills the power vacuum. I don’t see this happening – it could happen but seems improbable. Some argue that America is already in this state, but the actual economic data and other trends suggests otherwise.

3. Literal collapse, possibly due to nuclear war, terrorism, or civil war, resulting in substantial devastation, economic disruption, and loss of life. The Civil War is probably the closest America has come to this.