No coming collapse of America, and the difficulty of using history to predict the future

Not much going on in the news. Things have been pretty slow given that the left’s witch-hunt failed and that any attempts at impeachment are off the table, and also I don’t foresee Trump doing much in terms of immigration or anything else. Today is reminiscent of 1995-1996, in which the the economy was strong and domestically things were slow and uneventful, and Bill Clinton won reelection easily. The left wants to badly for there to be some sort of crises in America, or in China, or in the Middle East so that Trump loses.

Despite all the pronouncements and hand wringing by Vox Day and the media about the rise of nationalism, authoritarianism, and civil unrest, the post-WW2 property and peace described by Steven Pinker’s 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature remains uninterrupted, but as far as the US is concerned, we’re in a period of unprecedented calm, prosperity, and stability even by post-WW2 standards. Things are so peaceful and uneventful that even the smallest campus outrage or protest makes national headlines all over Twitter, Fox, and CNN–not because of increased unrest–because the media is so starved for crisis that they have to invent one where none exists, to boost ratings.

The media also tends to repeat certain narratives over and over “Trump colluded” “Trump is like Hitler” “economy weak/recession” “male/female wage gap” “all young people are broke” “pay gap” etc. and then people internalize these mantras as true or look for evidence that confirms them, when either the narratives are false or out of context or not put in perspective. If the media is constantly reporting every tiny act of unrest as the end of the world, then people will believe it.

Vox Day is probably wrong about his prediction for the collapse of America come 2033, and about how imperialism and diversity will lead to America’s collapse. US foreign influence, policing, and intervention is at all-time highs, and same for diversity, yet the US economy and stock market is not only booming but the strongest in all the world, and as mentioned above, there is less unrest than ever. The US dollar is at multi-year highs and there’s so little inflation. America is more powerful and relevant–culturally, economically, and militarily–than ever before. The exact opposite of his thesis is occurring, and I was right again.

The reason why I (and a handful of others such as Scott Adams) keep being right and so many others are wrong, is because I deal with and understand realty. I don’t ensconce myself in some false idealization of how history is supposed to unfold because some books written decades ago or longer said so. Vox has bookshelves full of books and a voracious reader yet his track record is like 2-20. That’s pretty bad. By contrast, Scott Adams almost never makes any historical references yet his track record is far better, although his predictions tend to be more limited in scope.

Scott Adams is right that it’s very difficult to extrapolate the future from the past even if there are many similarities. The problem with historical analogues can explained by chaos theory, in that small differences in the input conditions of an otherwise perfect historical facsimile, can result in wildly divergent outcomes. Although history cannot be used to reliably predict the future, it’s helpful for showing how the present is similar or dissimilar from the past. This cannot tell you what will happen next, but can be useful for assigning probabilities for the likelihood of certain outcomes. One example is the 2008 financial crisis, which had many similarities with the Great Depression, yet the outcomes were totally different: the 2008 crisis was, comparatively speaking, brief compared to the Great Depression, which lasted a decade. Same for failed predictions of multi-decade stagnation similar to Japan.

But also there is the issue of confirmation bias, which is that people look for similarities and evidence that confirms their preexisting narratives, and ignore counter-evidence. For example, Vox repeatedly calls Trump “the greatest president in 100 years” because of supposed nationalism, but overlooks Trump’s track record on foreign interventionism and meddling, which just two years into office has surpassed that of many former presidents. The reality is that interventionism and nationalism can coexist, as was demonstrated by Nazi Germany. Empires fail for many reasons, but diversity or stretching oneself too thin are no guarantee of that.

Vox could be right and it would be remiss to completely discount that possibility, but I don’t see that happening. Although the Spanish Empire was once the most powerful in the world, it lost wars and influence to Great Britain, America, and France; for example, the Treaty of Paris of 1898. However, there are no comparable challengers to the US hegemony today, except perhaps China, but China and America are more interested in trading and appropriating each other’s cultures than conquering each other. America is an exceptionally good position in that all its 18-20th century rivals are not only much weaker, but have no ambition to change that.