A new, dark picture of America’s future

Summary: The purpose of the FM website was to help reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold. Begun in 2007, its 4600 posts discuss our challenges with an optimist’s perspective. The two core principles are that I will not lie to you, and I try to admit my mistakes. Now those principles require that I confess that I was wrong. We need a new perspective since I no longer believe we will reignite America’s spirit. A transition to a new era awaits us. This America will not survive it. Many people have been saying this. Some famous, like William Lind. Some in the comments. Since 2007 I have vehemently said they were wrong. I now believe they were right and I was wrong.

Driving into a stormy future.

A road going into a storm.
ID 43069464 © Tamara Bauer | Dreamstime.

The big picture

Sir John’s reaction to the Brit’s defeat at Saratoga: “If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined.”
Adam Smith: “Be assured young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”

Smith is correct. For example, countless people have sounded “Taps” for America during the past 243 years. But history is littered with societies that have been ruined, or (more relevantly) ruined themselves. Perhaps our time has come. We have to coolly assess our condition in order to plan for the future.

The good news is that, as Ben Wattenberg wrote in 1984, The Good News Is {that} the Bad News Is Wrong. Most of the stories that terrify Left and Right are exaggerated or bogus. Pollution, climate change, overpopulation, debt, the coming economic collapse – are bogus. They might become even less likely, as we have begun a new industrial revolution that makes many of today’s physical problems, such as scarcity and pollution, irrelevant. Unfortunately, at this moment when triumph lies ahead – the decay of society threatens to overwhelm us. We might lack the will and wit to even fight back.

Almost everybody today senses that America cruises down a road with storms ahead – and fears that we have passed the last exit. I believe that is an optimistic view. More likely, I believe, is that we have begun the end times for the Republic (perhaps even western civilization) in its current form. This post will sketch out this vision, tracing our problems to their several causes. Future posts will provide supporting details.

We are roaring down the rapids, a period of rapid social and technological evolution. Swirling around, crashing into rocks, gasping for breath. It is scary and disorienting, common and appropriate reactions seen when discussing current events these days.

Rapids on the river - dreamstime_15084499
ID 15084499 © Nike Sh | Dreamstime.

Now for the bad news. Our trip flows on an “s” curve, like the course of the Niagara River. There are no longer any realistic odds of stopping the trip. The upper rapids look flat by comparison with what follows, but they do not feel flat as we roar down them. Soon we will hit the waterfall. As we plummet, we will look back to 2019 as the good old days. Then will come the terrifying lower rapids. Many things will break during this journey. Our society might drown.

Ouzoud waterfalls in Morocco.
Ouzoud waterfalls in Morocco. ID 16540863 © Misterbeautiful | Dreamstime.

A more precise diagnosis

My father’s death certificate has words that well apply to us today: “failure to thrive follow broad organ failure.” America is experience something similar: broad failure of its institutions. No matter how strong our society, cascading institutional failure can destroy it. De Tocqueville describes a similar situation in The Ancien Régime and the Revolution (although, as you will see below, the French Revolution resulted from a narrower set of problems).

Among the first to die was the Department of State, castrated during the mad “Who Lost China” wars of the 1950s. Internal regeneration has repeatedly failed. There has been no externally-driven repairs because no administration has been willing to commit sufficient political capital to fixing it (because the benefits would flow to their successors). So Presidents shifted some of State’s functions to DoD, and built a clunky ineffective work-around to State in the National Security Council. This has destroyed the balance of our foreign relations between diplomacy and force. Trump has worked to wreck the remains of State, while funneling cash into our grossly over-swollen military machinery (details here).

This shows our government’s inability to heal from damage, an early sign of senescence in an organism or organization (infirmity from old age). Since then institution after institution has broken: schools, governments, corporations, the military, law enforcement, scientific institutions, etc. The stories of their decay dominate the news. I do not refer to the usual stories of malfeasance and incompetence, omnipresent in history. Heaven should not be our standard of comparison. Functioning is the key. Our military can’t win wars. Our police wage a mad war on drugs, looting citizens through civil asset forfeiture. Many of our grade schools can’t teach their students the three R’s. Science is gripped by the replication crisis, a rot whose dimensions are far larger than most believe. Congress will do anything except govern. The President is the tweeter-in-chief. The dominoes have toppled in slow-motion during the past few generations. They continue to fall.

Each institution’s decay acts like a popped rivet in a ship’s hull: It puts more pressure on the surrounding rivets. If the stress continues, a chain reaction begins and the hull disintegrates. Ignore the chatter about trivia on social media and in the news. Listen, and hear the rivets cracking in the structure of our society, like the roar of popcorn on a campfire.

A tombstone for America

The worse news

The backdrop for our crisis is the rapid rates of technological and social change, which have been accelerating for several centuries. Few of the individual changes are unique in history (e.g., nuclear warfare, the gender revolutions). But the number of changes, their magnitude, and the rate of change create a unique situation. This has led us into the Crazy Years.

“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.”

— From Robert Heinlein’s timeline of his future history stories; first published in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1940. This series was published as The Past through Tomorrow. He predicted this for the 1960s. He was early, not wrong.

This has produced disorientation and destabilization at all levels of America. Today it looks, in some ways, like Weimar Germany. Degeneracy is applauded (the film Cabaret is a fun and dark look at this). Politics has polarized. The people of Weimar got to choose between crazy commies and Nazi scum. We choose between servants of the 1% and crazy Leftists (acting like monkeys playing with the controls of a nuclear power plant). Both major parties nominate people for high office that should not be trusted with anything more complex than a lemonade stand. Such as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump – all have their day in the sun, before we wake up and wonder what we were thinking. Now we get the same kind of hagiography for the even less qualified Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourk.

The Right has been captured by the 1%, with their libertarian “useful idiots” as shock troops. They bicker about utopian dreams, while the 1%’s servants build a new government better suited to their needs (destroying unions, snipping away at the social safety net, weakening regulations limiting pollution, expanding the security services and military, etc.). Much of this is opposed by the GOP’s supporters, who do not see their pockets being picked.

The Left has had another attack of the Jacobin infection, seeking to burn down society (seen as totally and terminally corrupt) and build a utopia world on its ashes – relying on untested dreams, and indifferent to facts. We’ve began the first rounds of denunciations and mob justice. Leftists seek to open the gates to an influx of people from failed states, believing (correctly) that this will further stress the system – and these migrants will become New Men and New Women in their dream society (and obediently follow their betters).

Mass delusions spread like wildfires through America. The 1990s hysteria about child abductions. The hysteria about Alar in 1989. The hysteria about satanic cults from roughly 1985 – 1995. Our elites learned to weaponize these fears. The Right warns of imminent dollar collapse and hyperinflation and economic armageddon  – with governmental bankruptcy coming soon. There is The Left warns that the world will end soon (per Cortez, in 12 years) from global warming. All are grossly exaggerated fears (Cortez’s prediction has no basis in reports by the IPCC and major climate agencies). Both Left and Right have large sections of the public terrified – and so malleable.

We’ve become tribes, seeing only tribal truths. Both sides clearly see the other’s madness, but each are locked into epistemic closure – hearing only themselves.  Social cohesion is fading fast, as the Left and Right stoke the fires of hatred for their own gain. Another cycle of political violence is beginning. Social engineers on the Left and Right use us as lab rats in their social engineering experiments.

Mad Scientist at work
ID 99011265 © Igor Mojzes | Dreamstime.

Watch society’s elites go bonkers

James Blish wrote Black Easter, an apocalyptic story about events following God’s resignation. A typical scene took place in Rome, with the protagonist watching the announcement of a new Pope. The white smoke rose into the sky. The new pope came on the balcony, to the wild applause of the crowd. It was the demon Beelzebub. That’s life in our America. The daily news reads like that in Alice’s Wonderland. Reason and moderation are aliens in today’s American landscape. The lyrics to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” describe how it feels to me.

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call …

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go …
When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head …

Good news – or not

“Nietzsche believed that the wild costume ball of the passions was both the disadvantage and the advantage of late modernity.”
— Alan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind.

What can stop or cure such broad social collapse? The best-case scenario for us would see a savior – one of the rare creative giants that Nietzsche said shape societies and history – arise amidst the coming chaos and put America on a new path. But Nietzsche warned that both saviors and monsters live in the void. As the people of Weimar Germany learned.

“{Leadership is}, according to Weber, of three kinds: traditional, rational, and charismatic. …Of the three, charismatic legitimacy is the most important. …Just over the horizon, when Weber wrote, lay Hitler …the mad, horrible parody of the charismatic leader hoped for by Weber. …his example should have, although it has not, turned the political imagination away from experiments in that direction.” {Ibid.}

Setting sun in cloudy sky
ID 36687280 © Péter Gudella | Dreamstime.

Now, the sad news

“A society does not ever die ‘from natural causes’, but always dies from suicide or murder – and nearly always from the former ….”
― Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s A Study of History.

A cure is impossible without accurate diagnosis. I believe that the core problem is obvious: it’s us. We have the ultimate responsibility for the fate of the Republic. But we have decided to no longer bear the burden of self-government. Nobody cares about our excuses. See America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.

On 4 July 2006 I wrote about the death of the American Constitution, a call to act before it became too late. Here is my most recent version. Today I believe that it is too late.  Our choices are decay or disintegration (e.g., as often seen in Africa or Latin America) – or some form of autocracy by the Left or Right. It’s like going to prison in America. You see the gangs. Not joining makes you a victim. Do you join the Puerto Ricans, the Blacks, or the White Nationalists? Painful choices, all.

In human societies, the night is always coming. Unceasing effort, begun anew by each generation, keeps it at bay. Sometimes the dark is unusually powerful, and only extraordinary collective action can push it back.

The smart money bets against us. Big picture analysis like this is usually wrong. But not always in a good way.

Special solutions

About solutions

I have no ideas about solutions. That is perhaps the worst aspect of our situation. For example, I wrote that After 230 years, the Constitution needs fixing. Now I believe any tinkering would make it worse. Perhaps it does not matter. My 129 posts about paths to reform of American politics get the fewest hits of any subject. Apathy can be a fatal disease for a Republic.

Future posts will describe our situation and discuss ways to prepare for what seems likely to come. But the human soul has an inherent capacity for spiritual revival. If nothing else, we can always hope for better days.

For More Information

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information, see my posts about Reforming America: steps to new politics, about forecasts, and especially these …

  1. The similar delusions of America’s Left and Right show our common culture – and weakness.
  2. Programs to reshape the American mind, run by the left and right.
  3. We are alone in the defense of the Republic.
  4. Who lies to us the most? Left or Right?
  5. The bad news about reforming America: time is our enemy.
  6. Delusions of the well-educated and intelligent on the Left and Right leave us nowhere to hide.
  7. Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America.
  8. Left and Right use race as a way to divide America.
  9. Watch the Left and Right move against America.
  10. DEFCON 2: both Left and Right have turned against us.
  11. America abandons the ideals that made us great.
  12. Visions of America if the Left wins.

Somewhere ahead lies the domino in America that will not fall.

That last domino will determine the shape of what follows.

Falling dominoes stopped - dreamstime_16910903
ID 16910903 © Seleznyov | Dreamstime.

73 thoughts on “A new, dark picture of America’s future

  1. Editor’s Note: Dalrock’s website is a must-read for anyone interested in a Christian’s perspective on the gender wars.

    I read it, and haven’t processed it all. But my initial take is that our institutions are failing because we have no vision, or very poor vision, culturally. In essence, we’ve lost our religion. Christians have given up Christianity for either chivalry (on the right) or SJWism and vagina worship (on the left). Even the radical secular left has lost its anchoring faith, now that the Soviet Union is gone. Not to mention Libertarians don’t really believe anything.

    We are adrift, in one sense. In another our culture has zealots rampaging enforcing the new religion, forcing everyone to publicly profess their faith in our new moral order.

    I think the most obvious manifestation of this is when we act as an empire. We are outraged that Iraqis and Afghanis don’t share our values. But what exactly are our values? If we were a Christian nation we would want to spread Christianity, or at least Christian values. But 99% of American Christians would recoil in horror at the idea. Really our values boil down to envy (for the designated oppressed) and self loathing (as a nation). Our new national ritual, our demonstration of civic virtue, is to kneel in protest against our own flag (when asked to stand out of respect). We send our military overseas to spread this message, and wonder why those we teach are filled with envy and loathing for us.

    The old anti drug commercial comes to mind ‘I learned it from you Dad! I learned it from you!'”

     

  2. The Dukes of Dingell: another example of our sclerotic political institutions.

    Michigan’s 12th (formerly 15th) Congressional District

    1933 – 1955 – John Dingell Sr.

    1955 – 2015 – John Dingell Jr.

    2015 – today – Debbie Dingell (widow of John Jr.).

    This seat has been held by one family for 87 years – so far. It’s not the only such family dynasty. Better known ones are the Kennedy and Bush families.
    It’s not a good sign.

    Hat tip on this to Mark Steyn’s book After America: Get Ready for Armageddon (2011).

  3. Supplementary comments about this post

    A common reply to this is that “everything will settle down eventually, probably for the better.” I’m skeptical about the latter (who can say?), but the former misses the key point. I’m more concerned with the turmoil and pain that lies ahead than the speculative rosy future beyond. Keynes’ said it well.

    “Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if, in tempestuous seasons, they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.”

    — John Maynard Keynes in A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923).

    1. Larry,

      We all appreciate your immense effort you put into these posts (my brief experience with an interactive web-site amplifies this) — yet there is something you may have missed: most people can’t deal with a complex issues on multilateral grounds — each of us gets excited (resonant) on one or a couple of points and tries to convey their view on just those in their replies. And, honestly, some replies do reach beyond what you may have intended to convey, yet they get “blasted” as not adhering to your line of reasoning or original intentions. (E.g. the very last few replies) We had an exchange or a couple about this and I understand your points; however, it would be nice to have a few new contributors on board.

      BTW, we’re all looking forward to your further posts!

      1. Jako,

        “And, honestly, some replies do reach beyond what you may have intended to convey, yet they get “blasted” as not adhering to your line of reasoning or original intentions.”

        Examples? Most of the 50+ thousand comments here disagree with me. I only give critical replies where imo warranted, and I give highly specific replies.

        I’m not a judge, and uninterested in giving praise or rebukes. Why would anyone care? Like a dine-store version of Diogenes or Patrick Henry, I seek only to strike sparks – hoping to start a fire among an apathetic people.

        “it would be nice to have a few new contributors on board.”

        Sensible people no longer bother writing for reform projects like the FM website. There are just a few with fringe views, like Lind and I. My co-authors, all better at this them me, have given up. They don’t even bother commenting in public any more.

        Most writing these days is done by single issue activists, ideologues, religious believers, political partisans, and those providing info-tainment (quite profitable if done well). That is, people with rational goals.

      2. I wonder why a bunch of ex-military officers don’t want to contribute to a blog where a retiree weeps about beer commercials and kids movies.

      3. Ron,

        I suggest you take a course at your local community college’s sociology department about interpreting art and media. You would learn how they provide insights to a society.

        I’m moderating your future comments. Silly, ignorant comments like this won’t be posted. They waste readers’ time.

  4. Stand by for the usual replies – seen in every post like this.

    “Everything is fine, nothing unusual is happening!”

    “It’s not our fault!”

    “Blame the people whose politics I don’t like.”

    5, 4, 3, 2, …

    1. Mr. Editor, what was the tipping point of your realization? (Honestly!)

      Truly great post!
      Mostly dead on; however, (me thinks) the decay of society would not “cause” it’s demise; the financial/economic forces will, while the disillusioned masses would not trust, let alone rally around, some real and competent new leader — “Shining city on the hill,” “Yes we can,” “MAGA,” — BUT! Nothing hurts morale more than broken promises.

      And here goes what drew many (i.e. me) to this FM: the hope of “Reigniting the spirit…”
      The men/masses will have to get a real motivation though — collapsing society will push us to the wall and we will have no other choice, than to fight back. So let’s hope and work toward this to cost the least amount of suffering to us all; but suffer we must…
      As said before: hopefully the “empire” will not die with a bang (see below), but with a whimper; and a new, multilateral, world order will emerge.

      AOC prophecy — twelve years to the end of the world due to Global Warming — may prove too optimistic — the total of all nukes has enough PJ’s to do that (CAGW) in a few milliseconds…

      1. Jako,

        “what was the tipping point of your realization?”

        Events this year. Hysteria about global warming and the Covington boys. Trump derangement syndrome. The Right’s new obsession with war against Russia and China, and the Left’s with war in Syria. Conversations with those on the Right (and in the military) about reform – and their evident reliance on a winged Jesus-figure to rescue them.

        Conversations with people smarter than me, such as Lind and Martin van Crevled.

        “the total of all nukes has enough PJ’s to do that (CAGW) in a few milliseconds…”

        The peak risk of nuclear war was, imo, in the early 1960s. Fast and irreversible reaction times, several close confrontations – and US generals eager for nuclear war (see the ExComm takes from the Cuban Missile crisis). Now leaders and their generals understand the risk.

        There are possible shockwaves beyond counting – low probability, high impact threats. With so many imminent threats – high probability, high impact – I don’t consider the others worth considering.

      2. Larry,

        I don’t disagree with the assumption that the highest probability point of triggering WW3 was during the Cuban Missile Crisis; however, the advancement of missile launchers (these are not only for defensive rockets) too close to Russia creates a similar situation now. I don’t think that declarations of military commanders (on both sides), that they would “re-think” any order to press the appropriate buttons is as reassuring as real and verified agreements (e.g. INF) and therefore, the doomsday clock was advanced yet again.

      3. Jako,

        I can’t imagine why you believe national leaders would issue orders that would mean their certain death, and that of millions of their own people. Or why you believe their generals would execute them. But “i’m smarter than them” is the key thread in most doomster stories. It’s why they almost always are proven false.

        But the distinguishing feature of our time is people’s focus on unlikely shockwaves, and their low interest in problems in our face threatening the basis of our society. Perhaps its the powerful groups encouraging us to focus on issues of low relevance to them, and obsess on shockwaves instead. Perhaps this is why we’re in such trouble.

        Like so much else these days, it is a mystery. Alice felt the same way in Wonderland.

      4. Larry,

        As you said in your post — most societies depart by suicide; that would be a likely outcome of an absolute departure of the exceptional one…

  5. Every Western nation I fear.

    Port Darwin, sold to Chinese company backed by the Communist Party, with the US and Australian Navies operating out of it. For short term gain politically.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-12/why-did-northern-territory-sell-darwin-port-to-china-what-risk/10755720

    I have feared we may have to join a gang to avoid victim-hood, for some while.

    Trump is a Caesar type leader and most are just over the bureaucratic, PC non sense, but what nice guy ends up a gang leader? Who really wants to join a gang, especially at 55?

    Start boxing and running again, cut 30 lb from my body weight, great for health, but we have a realize why we are training and what gangs do.

    1. Just a guy,

      “Trump is a Caesar type leader …”

      Not remotely true. The comparison is absurd. Trump tweets all day, mostly nonsense, while his standard GOP-issue cabinet executes policies that benefit the 1% – many of which are opposed by those who vote for him.

      “Start boxing and running again”

      While nice, you aren’t going to box America to success. Organizing (joining new or existing ones at any level – local, state, national) – will be far more effective.

  6. You’re right to see the many symptoms of crisis, and I think right about their severity, and also right about the great difficulty in finding a way through.

    I’ve been thinking about the underlying cause of this, if there is one, during the site’s quiet period, and have had the following tentative thought.

    The fall happens when the elite lose faith. The Soviet Union’s fall was in the end inevitable once the nomenklatura stopped believing in the project. At that point people at all levels and sectors of society shrug their shoulders and resentfully conclude that if this is the way things are, the hell with it, and all public spirit is increasingly eroded.

    In the case of the Soviet Union, the clear failure was of the Marxist-Leninist predictions of the course of history and the success of the socialist way. It became obvious that it just wasn’t working, wasn’t delivering, and that the societies across the curtain were doing much better. The problem should have been keeping out the wave of migrants from Western Europe. Instead it required the erection of fences and watch towers to keep the Soviet population in.

    Our own disillusionment has elements of this, its a lack of faith in the results being delivered coupled with a feeling of inability to change anything substantial. But I think another large element in it is the intellectual fashion which has penetrated society from universities outwards, so that it has become part of the ordinary unremarked currency of talk and thought. That is the moral and epistemological relativism which finds its most extreme expression in Post Modernism. The seeds were planted in Idealistic philosophy of the 19C, starting with Hegel.

    If you teach a whole generation that statements of right and wrong are just statements of what I feel good about, and that statements of fact are only expressions of my stance due to class, gender and race, then when the generation which has absorbed these points of view comes to adulthood, you will have a crisis of replication in the sciences. You will have a complete loss of the nation’s moral compass. You will have completely irrational public policy adventures, from foreign wars to huge projects to erect windmills to solve imaginary problems in ineffectual ways. You will have a population whose elite’s main aim is the looting of public wealth.

    One of the most insightful things Larry said recently was that American reminds him of Athens before the Sicilian Expedition. In some ways I think its worse. That was a crisis brought on by recklessness and pride. What we are facing is a crisis brought on by loss of belief.

    What to do? Don’t know how you reverse an intellectual climate. But at least, understand the source of the illness. It is the form of nihilism, the epistemological and moral relativism, which we refer to as Post Modernism or Cultural Marxism. Somehow we need to get back to a general acceptance that truth and facts are objective in the world, and that some cultural artifacts are objectively high quality and others trash. No, Bugs Bunny is not as valuable and interesting as Flaubert, and Flaubert is in the second rank of high culture, below Tolstoy or George Eliot. No, Duchamp’s toilet or the productions of Damien Hirst are not art. They are not funny, they are not illuminating. They are testimony that large numbers of rich adults have a mental age of 8, and that others have found a way to exploit their stupidity, frivolity and ignorance.

    And recognize too where the illness began: it started with and has its roots in Hegel. It was from that diseased soil that the craziness of doctrinaire Marxism grew, and that is the distant source of the current nihilistic general contempt for and hatred of all the achievements of Western society, science and culture. By people who enjoy its fruits every day, but if their dreams were ever to come true, not for much longer.

    1. Henrik,

      For a thorough development of your line of thought, see Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind. It’s brilliant – one of the deepest and penetrating books like it I’ve read.

      I’m sure he his right. But, as you say, I don’t know how to respond to such a diagnosis.

      1. The problem is that all the remedies that spring to mind are repressive and have historical models that showed such measures are themselves part of the problem. You find yourself rapidly wanting to control universities in unacceptable ideological ways, so substituting one version of political correctness for another.

        Maybe my account is wrong and the malaise is deeper and has to do with the system of incentives that has grown up and permitted the flourishing of the values and attitudes we are criticizing.

        But how to change them in ways that will deliver a return to objectivity? Or what we call objectivity? When you think about it a bit specifically, if they want to spend a fortune on Damien Hirst, what systematic changes to incentives would take away that delusion? Tax? Cannot see it.

        I wish I knew.

      2. henrik,

        All valid points. My guesses (emphasis on guess):

        America will continue to decay, as our institutions tumble like falling dominoes, until order is reestablished around new nuclei.

        The Republic will be followed by some kind of authoritarian regime – Left or Right, perhaps in new configurations. My second-stage guess (more speculative): we’ll get a form of fascism (the Nazi’s were only one of the countless forms fascism can take), with military (active and vets) plus law enforcement people at the core. This does not mean the military and law enforcement institutions will survive in their present form. Their people might defect to new institutions. Watch the people, not the dying social structures.

        To repeat, that’s just guessing. I more confident in my guess that our future is like a singularity in physics: a point of radical changes in core factors, beyond which we cannot see. I have said that for over a decade. Now I’m just more pessimistic about what lies beyond.

      3. Henrik’s post is good and makes sense.

        The intellectual climate is reversing, but quietly. I was born in 1962; my early years were spent in the New York State of Nelson Rockefeller, who financed the destruction of high culture. We were the first generation to have experienced schooling which excluded all traces of civilization.
        Ironically, we were also the first generation to rebuild it. The digitization of university libraries – most importantly, the libraries of the Ivies – are now available to any of us, not just the wealthy and the well-connected. We are all well-connected, should we so choose.

        As a historian, I find it interesting to visit that civilization which kept Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur as the top best-seller and looked forward to visiting The Holy Land on vacation at Chautauqua. That civilization existed alongside quite another civilization which flouted the child labor-laws on their books for a full 90 years, who read scandal-sheets that masqueraded as newspapers and were inspired enough by Thomas F. Dixon’s “historical” romances to excuse the Frankenstein monster awakened by them.
        A closed mind, an open mind, or a mind clouded by nostalgia for some Noble Lost Cause is a choice. We still can make that choice with our God-given conscience, despite any of the drek that passes for popular entertainment.

      4. Shelly,

        The West’s intellectual climate has been changing – I don’t believe “reversing” is accurate – for many centuries. But what we’re experiencing is different, as I describe in this post. I’m not a historian, but I know a bit of history – and cannot recall any close similarities.

        There are many cases of collapse from (or following) war, but that has little resemblance to our situation.

    2. henrik,

      Very thoughtful analysis!

      Some corrections:
      Soviet Union has not collapsed due to their nomenclature’s lack of faith in their politico-economic system, but their disastrous implementation of it. The structure was so rigid, thanks to Stalin, it was impossible to tweak and Gorbachev didn’t have enough authority to overhaul it in time, while Reagan’s military build-up was a trigger proving SU could not cope, and it crumbled.

      You may be interested in Popper’s Open Society (awful reading though) — while Hegel was instrumental step to Marxism, it seems that the original seed was sewn by Plato.

      BTW
      Marx’s theories were reflections of his time, not a bible and cookbook for creation of a functioning society today. However, it seems that China may have found a fairly successful way of implementing their adaptation of these (and no, I would not like to live there!)
      Also, there aren’t many sociologists today, who would deny validity of Marx’s pivotal analysis…

      And please, do not wish for more Objectivism, the laissez-faire capitalism is the very reason we’re at this looming disaster point (sociologists call it a point of bifurcation) and there is no credible prospect that we could just maneuver through this unscathed.

      1. henrik,

        Don’t let us, grumpy old men, dissuade you from forming your own opinion. I guess (as well as The Editor) you are on the right track.
        My apologies — I became allergic to anything “Objectiv***” and I take blame for lashing out at you in this respect.
        Sorry!

  7. Another bummer article where you straddle the fence disfavoring both sides. I don’t know Larry, you may be too smart for our own good.
    This country and the world has been in turmoil since the day I realized it, maybe that was at about six, my first day at school.
    I have a three-year-old Grandson, Kellen is his name. We walk through the woods on rare occasions (my Daughter and Son-in-law discourage it because Pop-pop smokes, lets him carry tree branches and get dirty).
    He is the happiest person I’ve ever met and the comments he makes along the way are the most brilliant I’ve ever heard. Happy beyond belief.
    Maybe we should strive to be more like Kellen, but we all know that can never be… It’s the grown-up world we live in.

    1. Hey Ron,

      “When I was young I thought life was so wonderful, beautiful.
      All the birds in the trees, they were singing so happily, joyfully, watching me.
      Then they sent me away and taught me to be responsible, practical, cynical…”
      – Supertramp, Logical Song, loosely recited.

      Keep taking those walks with Kellen. Nothing was more fulfilling than time spent with my grandparents as a kid. Nothing is more fulfilling than time with grandchildren as a grandparent.

      Beste

      1. Longtail,

        That’s a great comment and a wonderful cite.

        My addition: let’s spend less time trying to be free of responsibility like children, and more making a better world for our children.

      2. Guys,

        When I was 18 and went off my hometown to a big city university, my maternal grandfather said: “Do I envy you boy, your future, in peace and prosperity…” (he lived through both WWs in middle of the old continent), while when our kids went to school, into a big city some 27 years later (in Canada), I could not say anything remotely similar to his praise — I don’t have grandchildren and I hope it stays that way. One way I envy you guys and other way I’m sorry for them. We somehow spent their future…

      3. Jako,

        I hear similar things from the young men I led in Scouting (they’re now in their 20s). We Boomers inherited high cards from the Greatest Generation. We’re passing on low cards to the next generations.

    2. Ron,

      “where you straddle the fence disfavoring both sides.

      The tribal mentality – we’re angels, they’re devils – is a sign of America’s decay. Also note the scores of posts in which I show the commonality of behavior on both sides (they’re all Americans, so this shouldn’t surprise). Open your eyes. Who knows what you might see!

      “you may be too smart for our own good.”

      I doubt historians will look back on us say “we were too smart for our own good.” Probably the opposite.

      “This country and the world has been in turmoil since the day I realized it, maybe that was at about six, my first day at school.”

      No, it hasn’t on this scale. Magnitudes matter. History isn’t a vanilla blur. Like geology, it is long periods with low levels of activity interrupted by periods of rapid intense change. That’s why the big events like WWII and the French Revolution stand out.

      “Maybe we should strive to be more like Kellen, but we all know that can never be”

      Maybe we should put your three year old in the White House, at the controls of a jumbo jet, or running a nuclear power station. Then count the minutes until disaster. That statement is pretty strange. But adulthood’s responsibilities are heavy, and a three year old is free of them. Perhaps that’s a summary of America’s problem. So my recommendation is to be less like your grandson, and more like the people who built America.

      1. Larry,

        I see, I know the guilt trip all too well. I’ll tell you what, when I find what Roger Hodgson is looking for I’ll get him to come down here and straighten sh!t out.

      2. Ron,

        “I see, I know the guilt trip all too well.”

        What does that mean? How is that a rational reply to the ~250 words I gave in reply to your comment?

      3. Larry,

        ” “I see, I know the guilt trip all too well.”

        What does that mean? How is that a rational reply to the ~250 words I gave in reply to your comment?”

        ” Maybe we should put your three year old in the White House, at the controls of a jumbo jet, or running a nuclear power station. Then count the minutes until disaster. That statement is pretty strange. But adulthood’s responsibilities are heavy, and a three year old is free of them. Perhaps that’s a summary of America’s problem. So my recommendation is to be less like your grandson, and more like the people who built America.” ”

        Strange statement maybe but I’m a simple man of average intelligence. Watch it again, or for the first time to understand where I’m coming from. Thanks, Longtrail, for the Roger Hodgson song.

    3. ‘A new, dark picture of America’s future’

      What paints this picture, IMO, is information overload. Remember the days of one hour of the evening news, Walter Cronkite?

      Now it’s 24/7 so-called news that’s more bias opinion than fact. After all, it’s all about ratings anyway.

      Let’s all try to be more like Grandson Kellen for twenty-three hours a day. World news for one-hour is still a necessary evil.

  8. Larry-

    Excellent analysis as usual, and I apologize for not offering thoughts before you published. I’m still sorting out my azimuth.

    As you know, I prefer to see this more as a needed reset- best example is Western World around 1929 where we have a confluence of S-curves. In today’s world, it’s innovation cycle, monetary quantitative easing overload which only stalled the problems (did not solve), and declining baby boomer spending (peak was 2008). We’re struggling to cope with the fallout, and peak millenial spending doesn’t begin until mid 2020’s that could begin another growth period. Simultaneously, we have the effects of technology, social changes (hysteria), and loss of moral norms (modernity) as you noted above.

    Where we differ is the outcome. You see death. I see the opportunity for rebirth- which is a painful process. The reason we strived in the 1940’s and beyond is because of the painful lessons learned in the 1930’s not in spite of them. We’ve forgotten them and must relearn them.

    As you’ve noted before, studying Japan from 1980’s forward provides some good lessons since they had a head start in this decline.

    -Mike

    1. Mike,

      Thank you for your reply! One detail:

      “monetary quantitative easing overload which only stalled the problems (did not solve)”

      Fed action is just first aid, like that applied by a medic on the battlefield. They’re not trying for cures, but to stabilize the patient to allow either more intensive treatment or natural healing. My posts during the crash repeatedly made this point, such as this from October 2008:

      “After first aid is successful we must begin serious treatment for our global economic and probably even geopolitical systems. At that point correct diagnosis becomes essential for a cure, and to prevent it reoccurring.”

      1. Agreed. To add to your analogy, we put a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Instead of trickle-down, growth efforts, corporations took the free money and used financial engineering (stock buy backs and M&A) to artificially inflate paper profits and stock prices. This is the wave that we’re seeing now as the stock market rises again. It’s a fake wave, and it will crash.

        The question is will the crash go back to 1995 levels (and real estate back to 2000 levels).

        I’ll save the rest of my comments for your later posts as you talk about next steps.

      2. Mike,

        That’s not correct. Quantitative easing ended in 29 October 2014. Since then the Fed has not been suppressing interest rates. They are low globally because there is a surplus of savings over investments, as Bernanke explained in his famous 2005 speech.

        “This is the wave that we’re seeing now as the stock market rises again. It’s a fake wave, and it will crash.’

        The stock market has near zero influence on the economy. It responds to larger economic forces.

        This is one of my key points: the economy is fine. Since the business cycle has not been repealed, there will be more recessions — and the occasional depression. These are inherent features of free market economies. The Right’s obsession with the coming economic armageddon is the equivalent of the Left’s belief that global warming will destroy the world in 12 years. While both fret about their exaggerated fears, social decay continues quietly to rot the foundations of America. I’ll tweak my post to make this clearer.

  9. Perhaps- it won’t be the first time I’m wrong.

    I don’t believe in either the left or the right’s obsessions.

    I see it as a reset. Same thing happened in the late 1920’s.

    Time will tell.

    1. Sven,

      Interesting idea, worth watching. The effect of drugs (broadly defined) on societies is an interesting subject about which I know little. See this graph of alcohol consumption per capita in the US since the Civil War.

  10. “Do you join the Puerto Ricans, the Blacks, or the White Nationalists? Hard choices, all.”

    No, it’s the easiest choice in the world. That’s the beauty of tribalism: it simplifies things and tells you who your friends are, which is what you need in an age of collapse and de-compexification.

    1. Dred,

      “No, it’s the easiest choice in the world.”

      It is a hard choice in terms of values. A forced choice, as with a gun to one’s head, can still be a “hard” choice.

  11. I agree with Larry’s Diagnosis.

    The problem is that Trump has turned into a Koch brothers politician. Meanwhile, the election of Trump, which could have caused elites/corporations to question political correctness/immigration/identity politics, resulted in a doubling down with no end in sight.

    1. Gman,

      Trump is a small symptom of far deeper problems. Problems which have been developing for several generations.

      1. Gman:

        Larry is right as usual. The big problem with big problems is that they are the aggregation of unintended side-effects o previous solutions and the moderately ignored problems caused by new reactions to previous solutions that grow in the dark until they become critical. How can you prevent an issue if you continually choose to ignore it until it forces your actions to change?

      2. Pluto,

        You tersely describe our challenge. I wonder if we’re in a time of senescence of our Regime. Fortunately, a people – unlike individuals – can regenerate itself. That can be a spiritual event – like the revivals that led to the triumphs of the Victorian era in the UK, and the very different triumphs of the Civil War and post-bellum US.

        An alternative solution is revolution. Usually violent, since we’re not too bright. But sometimes not – as in the Glorious Revolution in Britain (1688) the reforms of Solon The Law-giver that laid the foundations of Athens (we don’t know the details, but see the result).

        Disaster is also a frequent result, of course. Despite what they say in the flicks, failure is always an option.

  12. I’m more optimistic than most in that I think that there is change happening, but think that it will be more like the changes from the republic of Lincoln to the republic of FDR, than the end of the republic. No one is currently able to confidently forecast 20 years out because of the changes rippling through our societies – even our demographic forecasting isn’t as useful as it used to be, because even though we know the maximum number of 50 year-olds 20 years from now, we aren’t confident how similar those 50 year-olds will be to the 50 year-olds of today. Ditto with genetic demographics as we don’t know what therapies/enhancements will be available.
    So for now we can walk with grandchildren and plant trees for them, and help others do the same. Maybe “adopt” some grandchildren by those of us not fortunate enough to have them. Don’t wait or expect a leader to solve things. “Put not your trust in princes.”

  13. Yes I did and yes, we are going through Crazy Years and massive changes. But for all the talk of a “cold civil war”, we are no where near the political violence of the 70’s, much less the beatings in Congress before the Civil War. We will likely have changes as large as the administrative state changes of the 20th century and maybe we will not hold together, but that is not the way I’m betting, though I keep an eye out and prepare as I can for other possibilities.
    I agree that our elite is lousy and it is particularly embarrassing as you, I, and probably most of your readership are off and on members of the elite.
    However, this post is about how your beliefs have changed, rather than new information and it has not changed my beliefs. I will keep an eye out for a leader and institutions that work, or at least muddle along in the best manner, but I will not expect a savior. Neither Obama, Trump, Zombie Reagan or Zombie JFK are going to save us.
    I’m currently reading _The Revolt of the Public_ which is a good description (and written pre-Trump) of how all institutions are doing badly in the current age, I’m about to get to his recommendation section and will let you know of I agree with any of them for good actions.

    1. Derw,

      It’s fascinating to see the comments to this series of posts. Each person sees part of the content, but the rest remains invisible to them – as does the overall thesis.

      That means something, but I don’t know what.

      “But for all the talk of a “cold civil war”, we are no where near the political violence of the 70’s, much less the beatings in Congress before the Civil War.”

      I didn’t say anything like that.

      1. Is your overall thesis “We need a new perspective since I no longer believe we will reignite America’s spirit. A transition to a new era awaits us. This America will not survive it.” with an elaboration of “Today I believe that it is too late. Our choices are decay or disintegration (e.g., as often seen in Africa or Latin America) – or some form of autocracy by the Left or Right. It’s like going to prison in America. You see the gangs. Not joining makes you a victim. Do you join the Puerto Ricans, the Blacks, or the White Nationalists? Painful choices, all.”?
        Do we need to go into what defines “This America”? For example, would the change between the America of the Gilded Age and the America of LBJ’s War on Poverty count a different Americas?
        You did not talk about a “cold civil war”, but I gave it as an example of current talk of disintegration and how there are less signs of violence than there were in the past – and violence is a leading indicator of disintegration.

      2. Drew,

        Yes, that’s it. Widespread institutional collapse due to multiple simultaneous factors, which I (speculatively) trace back to its origins

        Our situation is quite unlike the two situations you mentioned. Those were single factor events. The civil war (slavery) resulted from a fault line at the Founding, The Great Depression from an extreme (but not extraordinary) economic downturn. Neither saw the mind-blowing social and tech changes beginning today, or the widespread institutional failure (if we had the latter during either of those, they might have ended differently).

        The French Revolution resulted from widespread institutional failure (described by de Tocqueville in L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution), but not the other factors (e.g., the social and tech changes that produced the gender revolution, now in its early stages).

        “and violence is a leading indicator of disintegration.”

        Widespread intense violence is a lagging sign, usually one of the last stages in social change. Low level violence is endemic in US society, flaring up occasionally (e.g., the Wild West, the KKK, the 1965-75 period of race riots and politically terrorism) – then dying down. Or compare the violence of Weimar’s Freikorps with the systematic broad extra-legal violence after Hitler became Chancellor.

      3. Larry,

        Unless I missed it, you didn’t touch on what Drew mentioned. The 1960s/early 1970s seems worse to me than today.
        For instance; The Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam war, Hippies (liberals), weed, mass protests, Kent State, Watergate, Nixon resigning, a real air quality problem (smog) etc, etc.
        We are still here.
        By the way, your work here is outstanding! It will take me years to get through it. Forgive me if I missed your overall thesis on this one.

      4. Ron,

        “The 1960s/early 1970s seems worse to me than today.”

        Tha’s quite bizarre. Those were magnificent years, the peak of the post-WWII era, when America had great dreams and took immense steps forward. The civil rights era (the real end to slavery, a full century after the Civil War), the early women’s rights era, Apollo, ending the cold war, beginning the Great Society, ending the cols war, rapid economic growth – and more.

        We had the finest corporations in the world. Our governmental institutions, from the Post Office to the Fed, worked well. Charities thrived, like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the United Way.

        “For instance; The Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam war, Hippies (liberals), weed, mass protests, Kent State, Watergate, Nixon resigning, a real air quality problem (smog) etc, etc.”

        Wow. That’s wrong. The list you give shows vibrancy, not dysfunction. Problems occurred, which is life – but they were addressed (imperfectly, as always).

        The Cuban Missile was followed by a fast cooling of the Cold War conflicts, the implementation of Fail Safe Systems, the nuclear test ban treaty (the first of a long series of arms control treaties), and detente (normalization of relations with the USSR and China). Now, moronically, we’re restarting the Cold War and ending those treaties.

        The Vietnam War was a mistake, and eventually wound down. Everybody makes mistakes. Repeating the same mistake is moronic. Which we have done big time in the War on Terror, which has run longer than the Vietnam War – and is still expanding (see Africom for the next frontiers).

        There was no likely way to end the two centuries of oppression of Black Americans without trouble. The race riots were probably inevitable once reforms began (expectations were going out exceed progress). But we’ve made great progress, in the usual fits and starts. As with so many things these days, there are indications this progress is shifting into reverse.

        “Smog” shows your misunderstanding about the difference between problems and solutions. The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was the first federal legislation involving air pollution, providing funds for federal research. The Clean Air Act of 1963 was the first federal legislation for air pollution control. Many followed it. The period you are dissing was when the great progress in pollution was made.

        “Hippies (liberals). Weed”

        Discredited forms of socialism are back in vogue (by comparison, hippies were the good old days). We’re legalizing weed. The crack and opiate epidemics make the hysteria about weed also look like the good old days.

        Presidential assassinations are somewhat random acts scattered throughout our history. They might be less likely today because unlike every other nation, the President lives in a militarized bubble. Far more worrisome are mass killings. How many mass shootings in schools were there in the 1960s? How many grade schools had metal detectors and police?

        “We are still here.”

        That is the mis-reading you and others are making. Of course we had problems in the past. But America functioned better in the past – as your own examples show. Now our social structures are breaking down. Early signs of failure already visible, and I expect this decay to continue. Probably to accelerate.

  14. Larry,

    I have learned much from you. Keep up the great work. I agree for sure on one thing: Involvement is the key. Voting is not enough. Whatever happens (I am unsure) we (Americans) will all be in it together. Left/Right, Republican/Democrat, Male/Female, etc…there is no escaping that fact.

    “But the human soul has an inherent capacity for spiritual revival. If nothing else, we can always hope for better days.”

    Jim

  15. My feeling–and it is just a feeling without supporting facts as of this writing–is that our elites have sold us out for their own enrichment, and have been doing so for two or three generations. Said elites now look upon the US and its people as carrion and once picked over, will move on. Our billionaires are building redoubts in New Zealand, our industrial titans dream of colonizing Mars. Heaven help those left behind.

    We abandoned Constitutional government over 70 years ago with the signing of the National Security Act of 1947, in which the National Security Council displaced Congress in great decisions of war and peace. Although a peace-loving people, the populace of our country has been governed by those in thrall to the military-industrial complex (of which DDE warned us) and so we have been at war almost constantly since 1941, with no end in sight. The morality of many of these wars is suspect. When the government is rotten, so too the people, given enough time.

    1. Philip,

      “is that our elites have sold us out for their own enrichment”

      That’s a symptom, not a cause. Being like sheep is a choice for people. Sheep attract wolves. That’s the Great Circle of Life, just like in the Disney films.

      If we don’t want to be preyed upon, we shouldn’t act like sheep.

      1. I am not sure that the American people chose to be sheep. At least not with full consciousness and awareness of the consequences. I am more sure that our leaders and their immediate minions chose to make us into sheep by manipulating us with fear. The basics were laid out by Edward Bernays in the 1920’s, perfected by Goebbels in the 30’s, explained to us by Orwell in the 1940’s. Our leaders stoke us full of fears and paranoia: Anarchists and Bolsheviks, Commies, Islamic terrorists, caravans from Central America. And then we are divided internally: Red, Blue, Dem, Repub, etc. Its all about making us fearful. Fearful, confused, and unable–or uninterested in–the truth of our situation.

        in order to sell a bill to aid Turkey and Greece (and contain communism) in 1947, Truman had to “scare the hell out of the American people.” It worked. It has worked almost ever since. The missile gap. The Gulf of Tonkin. The Evil Empire. The Axis of Evil. Caravans. It never stops. The lies and deceptions of our leaders, who are owned by the MIC, are morally indefensible. So are our endless wars around the globe. Having told so many lies, our leaders now believe their own lies, that we can hang onto our global hegemony. We can’t. We are an Empire in Decline. See Col. Larry Wilkerson on that subject.

        The key question is how to manage our decline. Shall it be a swift plunge, or a long glide path? That’s assuming we have a choice. If we have a choice, then we can manage our decline with some wisdom (hence, the need to study history), and we can minimize the damage to our values and our people. I do not see that kind of truthfulness and wisdom in our leadership class.

        A majority of the citizenry have given up on contributing to our civic life, and so turn inward. And why not? The will of the majority is thwarted whenever and wherever it threatens the interests of the elite, be it the endless wars, or the crappy health care, or any significant reform of our electoral politics, especially regarding the power of corporate money.

        Like you, I feel that my boomer generation has squandered the inheritance from our immediate forefathers and will have nothing of value to pass onto our children and grandchildren. We traded in the Great Books for Netflix, and the Gospel for Dr. Phil.

        In short, no quick fix.

      2. Philip,

        “I am not sure that the American people chose to be sheep. At least not with full consciousness and awareness of the consequences.”

        I agree. But isn’t that true of almost all bad decisions that people make? Do we believe that this excuses them from responsibility? In other words, who cares why we did this? Do we say this excuses mistakes by our ancestors? Do you believe that our descendents will do so?

        “I am more sure that our leaders and their immediate minions chose to make us into sheep by manipulating us with fear.”

        We’re such poor babies, so easily manipulated by others. Why don’t we live in a world without wolves, so we can safely act as sheep?

        “In short, no quick fix.”

        Please list those great problems from America’s past that had a quick fix.

        “The will of the majority is thwarted whenever and wherever it threatens the interests of the elite”

        Cry me a river. What is this “thwarted?” What were those large bold actions that they “thwarted”? How did those actions compare to those our ancestors, whose work and sacrifices built America?

        “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

  16. Hi Larry,

    I’m trying not to trigger a “see folks — I got an everything is fine, nothing is unusual” response. Because I certainly do not think that everything is fine. But I’m not as cynical as you seem to be.

    When I read your decline-themed posts, I wonder if every generation feels this way. You write a blog now, 50 or 100 years ago would have said similar things in a newspaper. Even during periods of prosperity, growth and optimism, if you looked closely you could see we have always been divided, and our institutions have always failed many of us.

    David Frum’s article in the Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/04/david-frum-how-much-immigration-is-too-much/583252/ suggests worldwide immigration increased in recent years, not because things have gotten worse but because they have gotten better. As people get wealthier, and more educated, they realize they could have a better life if they emigrate, and they gather together the means to do so. I mention because it seems to connect to this conversation: the more we learn about societal problems, the more dissatisfied we become. As things improve, those who previously had no voice start speaking. If someone feels like there was a time when things were better, and now things are worse, perhaps their status and position didn’t expose them to the problems those voiceless people faced. So are things really worse now, or is it just that more people have said “hey, I want some too?” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve paid attention to things I previously ignored. But also, when groups were still silent, it was easier to overlook.

    In my lifetime America has gone from Whites-only water fountains to the first black President; from LGBT individuals being ostracized and jailed to being accepted by most in society, getting ordained as ministers, elected, married; from women forced to resign once pregnant or not able to get a credit card without their husband’s signature to single mom CEOs; from boys will be boys to #times up; from CEOs earning 15x their worker’s average salary to 300x; from unions having bargaining power to right to work laws; from manufacturing behemoth to trade deficits and the knowledge economy; from slide rules to a computer in my pocket; from trusting the government to Watergate, the Pentagon papers, the Iraq war. That’s a whole lot of change, some good, some bad.

    Through all of that, societal division and tribalism have been useful as crowd control, whether or not it is intentional.

    Seems true that institutions always fail us and that the only way to make things better is if we step up and take action. I’ve been a scout leader too, and perhaps you agree the unit with strong parental support but boy-run leadership is a stronger unit than the one where the parents do all the work. Same with society, if we expect the institutions to serve us but don’t get involved in their efforts and leave it to those in the power structure alone. Once you move past whatever dogma that we are taught as children and start asking questions about why something is the way it is, ugly truths are impossible to avoid. Fixing those problems is hard work. Gotta roll up our sleeves and get involved in our communities. Strengthen institutions with our time and our sweat and our money. I get why we are waiting for Superman to save us. It’s easier to stick our heads in the sand, saying “whaddyagonnado?” Being willing to bring forth change may mean being willing to give up status, time or money. We are all prone to Upton Sinclair’s axiom “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” But I also think that people with clear eyes & full hearts can’t lose…

    Thanks for your ongoing conversation on this blog. It’s an important one to have and provides me with things I hadn’t thought about.

    1. digadigadig,

      Thank you for your comment, but I don’t understand it. I explicitly dealt with most of the points you raised. From your comment it seems like you didn’t read the post.

      “In my lifetime America …”

      The post is about the future, not the past. And it is about some aspects of the future, as mentioned here:

      “The good news is that, as Ben Wattenberg wrote in 1984, The Good News Is {that} the Bad News Is Wrong. Most of the stories that terrify Left and Right are exaggerated or bogus. Pollution, climate change, overpopulation, debt, the coming economic collapse – are bogus. They might become even less likely, as we have begun a new industrial revolution that makes many of today’s physical problems, such as scarcity and pollution, irrelevant. Unfortunately, at this moment when triumph lies ahead – the decay of society threatens to overwhelm us.”

      “Seems true that institutions always fail us”

      First, that’s quite false. America’s institutions have been unusually reliant under stress, which is one reason we’ve triumphed in difficult times (eg, the Civil War, the Long Depression, the Great Depression). Second, as I said …

      “I do not refer to the usual stories of malfeasance and incompetence {of our institutions”, omnipresent in history. Heaven should not be our standard of comparison. Functioning is the key.”

      “When I read your decline-themed posts, I wonder if every generation feels this way.”

      I discussed that at some length. Such as this, the key thesis …

      “Few of these individual changes are unique in history (e.g., nuclear warfare, the gender revolutions). But the number of changes, their magnitude, and the rate of change create a unique situation.”

      “David Frum’s article …”

      Frum isn’t always wrong, but that is a good starting assumption. Massive waves of migration are common going back to the dawn of history. They have a wide range of causes, from both good times and bad times (e.g., war and drought forcing migration). The Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Old Testament) describes several waves of migration in the Middle East.

      1. @Larry: “Frum isn’t always wrong, but that is a good starting assumption.”

        I second that comment in spades. David Frum tries VERY hard to get the facts right and PC right at the same time but his track record for predictions is astonishingly bad. As near as I can tell, it comes from trying too hard to please his masters about the past and himself about the future at the same time.

        But, as with most guesses, I am not nearly happy with the amount of conjecture required to arrive at that conclusion and I could easily be wrong…

      2. Pluto,

        I agree with you about Frum. And, as you note, being right isn’t a key thing for Frum. That’s useful only to the extent it does not get in the way of serving his masters.

  17. Living in some neighborhoods of Oakland are like living in a maximum security prison in terms of brutality. Not much more than a mile away are neighborhoods where life is much like paradise. This is manmade heaven and hell in juxtaposition. Not America, Oakland. But the story repeats too many times for comfort across the continent, and that is real blood on the ground in the brutal zones.

    The underlying realities are uncomfortable and not politically correct. I could lose my job, lose tenure, just for pointing out the obvious. So like most people I am highly selective about whom I share my observations with.

    Time to solve problems closer to home, because you are right, those bigger problems are beyond us.

    1. Red,

      I lived for 30 years in Walnut Creek, and agree fully with your description. All the wonders of nature have been spoiled by generations of Leftist-run governments.

      Part of the wonder — as in Wonderland – of the San Francisco Bay Area is the contrast between Oakland and Berkeley. I remember many conversations with the enlightened in Berkeley. My fav: I was told in all seriousness that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger intended to establish a fascist dictatorship, using the California National Guard.

      Last Fall we moved to Iowa. It’s a far better place to live in almost every way.

  18. From your article:

    “Now we get the same haliographic treatment for the even less qualified Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourk.”

    From the Free Dictionary:

    haliography
    Obsolete, a work describing the sea.

    I think you meant hagiography. Did you?

  19. Pluto: “The big problem with big problems is that they are the aggregation of unintended side-effects o previous solutions and the moderately ignored problems caused by new reactions to previous solutions that grow in the dark until they become critical. How can you prevent an issue if you continually choose to ignore it until it forces your actions to change?”

    Some good news on the festering problem(s) with how drug use and homelessness are being addressed- Rhode Island seems to have found way(s) to deal with the unintended side effects of the previous solutions as noted here-

    https://straightlinelogic.com/2019/03/22/seattle-is-dying-by-komo-news/

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