Summary: Increasingly I see a common element to our problems: irrationality. There are precedents in history, but they seldom end well. We have collectively chosen to send America into the “crazy years”. It is not too late to change course.
A portrait of modern America.
Here we see more of the mad pageant of 21st century America, where nothing is what it seems.
Hatred of bankers’ bailouts sparks the Tea Party movement, which then helps elect the most banker-friendly Congress since the Gilded Age (details here).
America unleashes special ops assassins and flying killer robots under direction of the Democratic Party’s “humanitarian interventionists“, led by our Nobel Peace Prize wearing President who boasts of assassinating American citizens and spreads our wars to many new nations. He winds down our war in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to expand it in Syria and Iraq — using the same tactics that failed during the past decade. Conservatives call Obama “Leftist” and “anarchist”, as he expands government surveillance to levels the Gestapo would have envied. They doubt any numbers that challenge their beliefs: seasonal adjustments, numbers about inflation and jobs, and temperature records (and more here).
The most feminist generation of women ever flock to see a movie idealizing one of the most sexist heroes ever to appear in a big-budget Hollywood production (by comparison James Bond looks like Betty Friedan).
Leftists crusade in the name of science to prevent climate change, but largely abandon the IPCC — what they formerly described as the “gold standard of climate science” — for more extreme views held by a minority of scientists and often contradictory to the IPCC’s views (examples here, here, and here).
The Right has built their own world and moved in. They created their own sciences: creationism, and calling climate science a fraud. They create their own history: the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, amnesia about the horrors of the late 19thC (e.g., treatment of Native Americans, immigrants, unions), that we could have won in Vietnam, the horrible economy in the 1970s (& more here), and the Reagan economic miracle. The Right has its own economics: cutting taxes increases tax revenue, monetary stimulus produces inflation and stagflation, a strong currency is always good. My favorite trope on the Right is that “whites are the real victims of racism”.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Heinlein saw this coming
“The Crazy Years: Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade, and the interregnum.”
— By Robert Heinlein; first published in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1940.
We’re in the Crazy Years, as foretold in 1940 by sci-fi author Robert Heinlein. There are precedents. The 14th century was a time of crazy years in Europe, brought about by a combination of massive social and political changes, plus natural catastrophes (e.g., plague and the onset of the Little Ice Age). For a vivid account of this time see Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (1978). More recently the French called the 1920s the années folles (crazy years), the aftershock of WWI followed by large social and political changes.
This irrationality is like an infection spreading through our society. I suspect (a wild guess) that it’s our response to our apathy and our resulting powerlessness. If so it is a choice not a destiny. Individually we’re pawns, but together we are strong.
All our reforms have helped strip the teeth of our gears, which can no longer mesh. They spin idly, side by side, unable to set the social machine in motion. It is at this exercise in futility that young people must look when thinking about their future.
— From Allan Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind” (1987).
For More Information
You can buy Heinlein’s full The Past through Tomorrow “Future History” Stories from Amazon. They have a happy ending. Here are posts about our increasingly strange world:
- The World of Wonders: Monetary Magic applied to cure America’s economic ills.
- The World of Wonders: Everybody Goes Nuts Together.
- Do you look at our economy and see a world of wonders? If not, look here for a clearer picture…,
- A guide to the weird numbers that run our world, describing financial bubbles & climate change.
- Look at the economy. Fight the illusion of normality. Feel the weirdness.
- Embrace the weird news. It signals the transition to a new world.
- Any day something small might happen that changes the history of the world.
- A key to understanding the news: the unexpected rules in our age of wonders.
Another portrait of America