Welcome to ClownWorld, the final meme for America

Summary: This post provides a big-picture view of America. Where we are, how we got here, and where we are going. It is subjective and speculative, and more valuable than the thousands of fact-based reports that are our core content.

Welcome to the new America: Clownworld.

Clowns on the street - Dreamstime_128496492
ID 128496492 © Aleksii Sidorov | Dreamstime.

The spirit of an age, its core nature, can only be seen in terms of metaphors. Or, as we say today, memes. During the past 16 years, I have documented the evolution of America. In the 1960s we had the bright dreams of the Boomers (best seen in the original Star Trek shows, and later in Enterprise) for the continuation of the post-WWII technological and social progress. That quickly went rancid in the slowing of economic growth, rising inequality, and social disintegration. Social change and politics went off the rails in the 1970s, as we entered the Crazy Years.

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.

Heinlein’s future history stories allude to the “crazy years” but do not describe them. Now we get to experience them. I have dutifully noted our slide into the crazy in many posts, such as these.

  1. A key to understanding the news: the unexpected rules in our age of wonders.
  2. America is becoming weird. Here are some recent examples.
  3. We live in the crazy years, but can choose a different destiny for ourselves and our children.
  4. The common thread that explains so much in America — We have collectively chosen to send America into the “crazy years”. It is not too late to change course.
  5. We are living in the crazy years – Documenting the decay.

America had a party to celebrate the fin de siècle, the end of the 20th century. A tech boom, a stock market boom, and a feeling of resumed progress.

This all fell into the toilet beginning with the Y2K madness, another of the many bouts of hysteria about imaginary threats to America that are a special feature of our time. Other examples are satanic ritual abuse, massive sex-slavery (e.g., debunked here and here), sex abuse at daycare centers, the child kidnapping hysteria, the rape epidemic at colleges, the 2015 Ebola non-epidemic, the massive Russian interference in the 2016 election – and many more.

While we worried about these things, we slide down the slippery slope to Weimerica. Registered sex offender busted reading in the Draq Queen Story Time. Also see Second Child Sex Offender Unmasked at Drag Queen Story Time. Parental approval needed for ear piercing, but schools facilitate children’s abortions and gender “reassignment” (even young children are being “reassigned”, although they’re far too young to give consent). Parents exploiting their pre-teen sons as “drag queens” (here and here). CNN: “Cuckolding can be positive for some couples.” Wild euphoric experiments on our society.

Even more significant is the increase (or return) of political violence. The Right began it, the Left now embraces it (e.g., here and here).

The Left leads us to Weimerica because they hate America’s culture and seek to destroy it. The leaders of the Right do not care, as they focus on the extractive needs of the 1% (e.g, tax cuts, busting unions, reducing services to the public, deregulation, building monopolies, lavish “defense” funding of corporations). Both have become our foes. This is a key aspect of Weimerica.

  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. Delusions of the well-educated and intelligent on the Left and Right leave us nowhere to hide.
  6. Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America.
  7. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.
  8. Our Right & Left have lost their way. Saul Alinsky points to a better politics.
  9. Left and Right use race as a way to divide America.
  10. Watch the Left and Right move against America.
  11. DEFCON 2: both Left and Right have turned against us.
  12. America’s foes reveal themselves. They are many & strong.

As a result, the middle in American politics has died – now extremists rule. Was our future a choice like that of people in post-1929 Weimar Germany, where their choices were communists or Nazis? No. America’s evolution continued to a worse future. What comes next in our journey into the crazy years? ClownWorld.

"The Persistence of memory" by Salvador Dali (1931)
“The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali (1931).

ClownWorld – the final meme

ClownWorld is something we do to ourselves, as Bill Bonner explains. He writes about finance at The Daily Reckoning and is a founder of The Agora (see this article about it). He is a doomster and perma-bear, but has an interesting perspective on our situation. See these terrifying words from his column “Corrections” in March 2001, describing the essence of ClownWorld.

“Men do stupid things regularly and mad things occasionally. And sometimes, the impulse to self-destruction is so overwhelming it overtakes an entire nation. …The best a person can hope for when he goes mad is that he runs into a brick wall quickly …before he has a chance to build up speed. That is why success, in war and investing, is often a greater menace than failure. …

“People seem to make such obvious and moronic errors that it seems as if they were driven to it by some instinct of self-destruction – like lemmings periodically exterminating themselves in a march off the cliffs. What’s more, this diabolical instinct seems to report for duty at the very moment when the future seems the brightest – that is, when it is most needed! Just when men are most proud, most confident, most expansive in their ambitions and hopes …that is when they make the most lunkheaded judgments.”

In ClownWorld, the experience of reading the daily newspaper puts one in a surrealistic painting. The president is a clown, tweeting nonsense. The Democratic Party’s candidates for president are a collection of the elderly, publicity whores, and extremist weirdos (advised by economists who believe in lotsa free stuff for all). The Democrats leaders flail helplessly while the GOP’s leaders polish the shoes of their plutocrat overlords.

Discussions about politics quickly become gibberish, as the demon Screwtape explains (they know us well) in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.

“It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier.  At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.

“But what with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that.  Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.  He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily ‘true’ or ‘false,’ but as ‘academic’ or ‘practical,’ ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary,’ ‘conventional’ or ‘ruthless.'”

America today is well described by these words from “White Rabbit”, written by Grace Slick and recorded by Jefferson Airplane for their 1967 album “Surrealistic Pillow.”

“When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head …”

There are two common reactions to ClownWorld. The first is horror and disorientation. The second is acceptance. Science fiction author James Blish captures both in this scene from his great book, The Day After Judgement (1971). In it, Father Domenico wanders though a world which makes no sense.

“By luck it was not a bad position; from here he had quite a clear view up the staircase and between the towering statues of Mars and Neptune. The great doors had already been opened and the cardinals in their scarlet finery were ranked on either side of the portico. …The combination of bell and trumpets was solemnly beautiful and under it the crowd fell quickly silent. …a cardinal cried in Latin:  ‘We have a Pope, Summus Antistitum Antistesl And it is his will that he be called Juvenember LXIX!’ The page now stepped forward. He called in the vernacular;  ‘Here is your Pope, and we know it will please you.’

“From the shadow of the great doors, there stepped forth into the sunlight between the statues …his face white and mild as milk, a comely old man …the demon AGARES.

“An enormous shout rose from the crowd and the trumpets and the bell resumed, now joined by all the rest of the bells in the city and by many drums and the firing of cannon. Choking with horror, Father Domenico fled.”

ClownWorld is the final meme because what probably follows is chaos. I will continue to document it, but with a sense of futility. I see a dark future for America as our institutions fall like ten-pins (crazy people cannot operate the complex machinery of a developed nation). I fear that we have passed the last exit to a smooth resolution of the chaotic forces unleashed.

I have no idea what lies beyond the coming chaos, but I suspect that much will be broken before we get there. And we might not like what lies beyond. But remember, the future lies in our hands. We will build it through inaction or action.

For more information

This post changed everything about how I see the world: A new, dark picture of America’s future.

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the constitution, about reforming America: steps to political change, and especially these…

  1. Important: On this Independence Day, See The Future of America.
  2. A third American regime will arise from the ashes of the present one.
  3. For America to prosper it must first burn.
  4. Lewis Lapham explains why America needs a Third Republic.
  5. We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!
  6. Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
  7. Let’s recall the lost meaning of Independence Day.
  8. America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s worse.
  9. The Republic’s foes reveal themselves. They are many & strong.
  10. We have forgotten who we are. Let’s remember, and win.

Inspirational books for the 4th, now and in the future

The Founders looked to the Roman Republic for ideas and inspiration. In this time of peril, we too can do so. See two books about the people who were the poles of the forces that could have saved the Republic, but instead destroyed it. From these, you can learn more about our situation than from most books written today’s politics. They give what we need: perspective.

Caesar – a biography by Christian Meier.,

Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni – The life and legacy of Cato, the mortal enemy of Caesar.

"Caesar" by Christian Meier
Available at Amazon.
Rome's Last Citizen
Available at Amazon.

29 thoughts on “Welcome to ClownWorld, the final meme for America”

  1. Given the centrifuge like acceleration with which we have entered into ClownWorld, I fear that the next stop, chaos and utter lawlessness, can’t be too far off, probably just a few years away.

    crazy people cannot operate the complex machinery of a developed nation

    And people won’t get it until the store shelves are bare, and even then many won’t get it and will insist that the solution is even more chaos and anarchy and that everything is the fault of white people or something.

    1. What I think is — the first step from our “bifurcation point” will be some form of military rule. That may delay the ensuing anarchy and “empty shelves” and such. As what will succeed that, no one knows. It may well be, as we speak, being defined in the dedicated offices of the Communist Party of China or by rebelling world’s oligarchs (another “xyz group”); I would put “us,” as in our activity / passivity, to far distant possible outcome forgers — I see the link between “us, the people” and the real power as broken long time ago…

      1. Jako,

        Wow. Truly weird forecasts.

        “I see the link between “us, the people” and the real power as broken long time ago…”

        Now that’s America. We’re too lazy to work the machinery the Founders bequeathed us, so we blame others! This just in: we are the “real power.” But that requires us to work to exercise it. Sitting on our butts and predicting military rule, fantasizing that foreign rulers are conspiring to rule us – none of that helps or counts.

      2. Weird you say?
        That’s in the eye of the beholder. Who said that e.g. “foreign rulers are conspiring to rule us?”
        I don’t think China has any plans to “rule” anybody — why would they? I was talking about an adequate remedy to our post-traumatic disorder. Many, especially younger people, are in favour of a kind of “limited socialism,” or that with a “human face,” as the old Czechs tried in vain and some EU countries implemented quite successfully.
        BTW, from one of the previous posts here — China has no aspiration to “dominate the world,” they may strive to become a new “beacon” or guide to success, especially after the collapse of our “post-modern” world, but the old Marx-Lenin’s idea of instigating revolution abroad and a installation of a centralized world-wide communist government is pretty much gone now (me thinks).
        I have recently re-read “China’s Congresses in Action — Data-Driven Democracy” (by your favourite Mr. G-F Roberts), and after getting past the obvious propaganda, there are quite a few good ideas you could contemplate in the process of awakening the American Spirit…

  2. If your intuition if correct “…I fear we have passed the last exit,” then isn’t everything, from now on, simply positioning for the war that is about to come.

    Are we all preparing for our unwanted sacrifice?

    And where does that urge come from?

    1. Jim,

      “positioning for the war that is about to come.”

      Americans are mad about war. War on Drugs, War on Crime, War on Cancer, War on Terror, War on Poverty, etc. War is a special kind of social conflict, and (fortunately) a relatively rare one.

      Our problem today is, imo, caused by our apathy and passivity. We’ve decided we are “consumers” of the services on the Good Ship America, and best suited to whine when they’re not at the high standard people of our awesomeness deserve. Since we’re the crew, we shouldn’t be surprised when it hits the rocks.

      Our bold talk of war – esp gun nuts talk of the Great Day In the Future When They Rise Up, Take Bazookas in Hand, and Smite Their Oppressors. My fear is that we’ll be like the Roman people and comfortably adapt to being peons.

  3. Good day Larry,

    It took half the day to absorb this prescient post because I studied a lot of links and revisited some as well. Your observations are very clear eyed. Your timeline is accurate, I lived through it and mostly contributed due to my gullibility sucking up lies and propaganda.

    I was one of your early skeptics but I couldn’t stay away. Became acquainted with Lind at same time. It took a year or more before I became in general agreement. Now I proclaim your site far and wide. I parrot you! I post links to your site. I haven’t yet but I’m still looking for an outfit to make very good shirts to put you logo and site name on. It’s my penance.

    I think you’re right. The two books you recommended would be more useful than crap published today.

    1. Longtrail,

      This is an unpopular perspective, breaking everybody’s tribal truths. Plus the allegiance to evidence not feelz.

      I believe this is the only way to a better future. It’s a minority opinion.

      1. You hope too much. Good things don’t happen. The only future that awaits is one of Ashes and Echoes.

        Samson Looms.

  4. I am writing from Australia and was born in the UK, although I have family in the US.

    The madness has infected all the West, just to different degrees and in slightly different ways.

    Here is something you and/or your readers might find interesting.

    I teach a business course, which attracts points for permanent residency in Australia, it is on a weekend day, there are few jobs in the regional area I live in, so it doesn’t matter if I like it or not. What I have noticed is that many students from Indian, Pakistan, Nepal and China, the biggest student groups, are mainly richer, well educated, eager to get Australian residency and work, but all mainly want to live in their own enclaves, they are very critical of the divorce rate in the Australia, the lack of work ethic among many, the amount of drinking/drugs and I feel many don’t even like us. One guy actually said to me in class “I don’t want to come to Australia, I hate it, but their are no jobs in the Punjab”, the smiles from the class gave the impression they were generally in agreement. The more immigration, the less white people to oppose immigration and more of them can come over. Indian and Pakistani students tell me they are drilling private wells ever deeper to get water and only the rich can get down deep enough to get unpolluted water in many regions this is for residential houses not just agriculture. One Pakistani student whose Father’s a wealthy Doctor has a 400 foot deep bore in his garden, it was 200 feet deep when they moved in ten years ago, the depth is to get clean water, as his father deals with kidney issues all the time from polluted water. (even if the student doubled the depths for effect it is serious).

    Many of these students are told by the Agents at home and the Universities here in Australia, if they do expensive degrees and work here they will get residency, they all sign a document when they come, to say they are coming for education not for residency, but I taught for over a decade in the University and 90-95% come for the possible visa. They are told there are huge shortages of Accountants, Engineers and so on, so they do degrees and / or Masters in Professional Accounting depending on their previous education (ie 18 or 22 with first degree already), the Universities provide quite ordinary courses for high fees and mainly only employ casuals to teach the courses (I know this I was one for 12 years). There are few accounting jobs, so they work in meat packing, hospitality or aged care (when in this region) as it is the only areas where we find it difficult to recruit. They find themselves in the situation that to get permanent residency they have spent all their money on education, after a four year degree, they do a two year Masters in Professional Accounting, they fail to get a decent job paying over $55,000 (I think is the Government min wage to get residency), so they can’t get residency yet. They then join a private college and do a cheaper diploma in Leadership or Translation (residency subjects with points attached, they survive with low paid jobs, and this can go on for 2 or even 10 more years to get residency if they can’t get a high enough paid job. At the end of this process, it does not take a genius to work out they often don’t like us much, they have spent all their money, are in their 30’s or near it, have worked in low paid jobs, often in ethnic restaurants that know the situation and pay them half the legal wage in cash, don’t like it many will. They get residency 10-20% get accounting jobs with careers, 20-40% dull book-keeping/admin jobs, the rest well taxi drivers, aged care and such like, all done with a first degree, one or even two masters and several diplomas. At this point they work two or three jobs save up and a wife is sent over, they then move into their own enclaves and wall their women off from Western influence. With a dull book-keeping job 9-5 and then taxi driving most evenings and always doing the drunk runs Friday and Saturday, for the extra pay, wouldn’t we all be desperate to avoid a divorce or kids with little work ethnic or no respect for them (children in the West are not respectful to their parents as Asians are), while they send their parent in India or Pakistan 10% of their income each month.

    We are all told Australia (or UK and I imagine US) has such wonderful education people come from all over the world to pay for it, in the top Universities no doubt they do, but many of the rest have such low standards it is a joke, the income is huge in Australia, in our regional University, if it 26% International Students (in the press yesterday) since they pay three or four times the local fees, they are well over half the fee income. In that situation you don’t fail that many students, so standards drop off quickly.

    Education is left wing and the indoctrination programs are paid for by the next way of diversity, International Students, to bring about an illustrious Post Capital Utopia, or so they think, Editor this system pays for the educational system (at least in Australia) that is helping to steer us into this crazy world. the points system has been subverted as the Universities took control of education visas and they just each student as income and diversity all in one.

    1. Just a Guy,

      Thank you for sharing your experience in Australia. It is, sadly, a common one in the West. California’s state colleges likewise feast on foreign students. Their cheating rings are barely concealed, but the colleges enjoy their tuition too much to care.

      We will see an interesting collision in the next few years. US colleges are training vast numbers of students in the STEM fields, while vast numbers of immigrants flood in looking for the same jobs. Tech is a boom-bust industry. When the next down cycles comes …

  5. “Social change and politics went off the rails in the 1970s, as we entered the Crazy Years.”
    “Clown World is the final meme because what probably follows is chaos.”

    Your chronicle of the Crazy Years/Clown World, which we are still in, is a litany of perpetual chaos, delusion, and hysteria. It looks accurate. But it seems a bit meaningless to say that what follows this period of chaos…is chaos. Five decades of chaos followed by more chaos? Let’s be optimistic and say that America has a high tolerance and great endurance for a high level of chaos– let’s view it as a strength rather than a flaw. There is no sign that we won’t continue to see many more decades of the same. We’re a big diverse country that has shown very few signs of unity. Chaos is what we do best. Those who can’t handle it should consider moving to small stable countries like Switzerland or Bhutan.

    1. Gloucon,

      “But it seems a bit meaningless to say that what follows this period of chaos…is chaos.”

      Thank you for catching that! I wasn’t clear in my thinking about the difference. I’m altering the post to say that Clownworld is a late stage of the Crazy Years.

      “We’re a big diverse country that has shown very few signs of unity.”

      That’s quite false. First, high degree of social cohesion has been our greatest strength. It allowed us to recover from the civil war, which many societies never do. It allowed us to successfully assimilate vast numbers of immigrants. It allowed us to mobilize faster and to a greater extent than either Britain or Germany in WWII (e.g., Britain had severe labor troubles during WWII, which we didn’t).

      Second, foreign observers from de Tocquiville to now often remark about the high degree of social order in the US – done without an oppressive government. People put trash in cans, form lines, and voluntarily pay their taxes.

      But these are things we’ve worked at, not blessings from the sky. We’re no longer working at these things, as many people esteem chaos (as you do). I doubt you’ll like it when we get it.
      Chaos is what we do best. “

  6. Unfortunately, we are all following the same path, I called in on a retired friend after work, she said to me that we all in the West have to stop immigration for a while to digest what we have and integrate it (she is leftie, we are friends who don’t talk politics, but she is a good person and volunteers with adult education to locals and migrants – partly for something interesting to do that is free).

    After saying this she said she has taken in a home stay student a Japanese girl studying at the local college, the reason, simple with the low interest rates and rising prices, it was that or cut her heating and food costs again. She lives off soups and whatever is on special now, wraps herself in a fleece blanket and mostly watches TV as she has little money to do much outside her daily walk.

    She said the Chinese and Russians must be watching up self destruct in the West, then add your point about the next bust in tech (and the rest), another story in the Sydney Herald today about possible negative interest rates. Australia is now just mining, house building and tourism/international students, fast approaching 1 in 4 over 60 years old. Doesn’t look great for my kids.

  7. The near unquestionable political status of ‘free trade’ is one major factor in this process. There are no modest domestic jobs, such as used to support entire regions such as furniture in the south east or machinery in the north east. All that has been swept away in favor or ‘cheap’ imports. The reality that the people left behind still must be supported by the community is glossed over.
    Where do people who have no jobs and no prospects go except into drugs and other diversions?

    1. etudiant,

      “There are no modest domestic jobs, such as used to support entire regions such as furniture in the south east or machinery in the north east.”

      What’s the basis for that statement? See the FRED graph showing the percent of people ages 25 – 54 who have paid employment. At 80% it is near the peak values since 1948. More younger people are in school, which is a good thing. More older people are retiring, which might be a good thing (more data needed, but I think poverty levels are down in the 55+ group).

      I think (guessing) that the effect on imports is more on wages than jobs, at least so far. For more about this complex subject, see

      Globalization and free trade: wonders of a past era, now enemies of America?.
      Cheap Imports Backfire on America’s Retailers & What’s Left of Our Economy.

      1. Think that the bottom line for the average citizen is that median income per worker peaked in Nixon’s time. The wealth accumulated during the last few decades has gone entirely to the top.
        Meanwhile, the jobs have shifted from useful pursuits, such as making furniture, boots or gloves to the actively useless, such as TSA or building security.or lawn care certification. There may still be employment, but it is really fake from a real customer perspective.
        Obviously I see ‘free trade’ as a cancer on the body politic. Possibly Trump does as well, but no one knows what he really thinks. My only perspective is an undocumented comment by the late Roy Cohn, Trump’s mentor, who reportedly said Trump was the only political genius he had known.

      2. etudiant,

        (1) “median income per worker peaked in Nixon’s time.”

        Yes. Lots began to go sour for America in the 1970s.

        (2) “the jobs have shifted from useful pursuits …to the actively useless”

        There is no economic basis for such a distinction. In the good old days, lots of people were servants. Why is a butler more “useful” than those modern jobs you describe. It’s a moral distinction.

        (3) “Obviously I see ‘free trade’ as a cancer on the body politic.”

        That’s a gross oversimplification. Free trade has helped to create vast wealth for the world. But like all social systems, it can be abused. Which is what has happened since the 1970s. That, plus opening the borders (more workers) and crushing unions, etc.

  8. I thought you were anti the doomsters? OR just their thoughts on what is coming? Clown World is all too true, but the emphasis I see differently. Take Trump, said he was going to drain the swamp. but they saw through him and now he’s a spokesman for the USA.’s ‘deep state’. The USA is now the premier bully in the world, Trump is a coward and he reveals it by joining in the bully tactics. I assume he was always a bully but he’s really in his element now!

    AS usual for me I see economics as the prime motivator for the hollowing out of society. It’s been commandeered by the super rich and their acolytes to spread misinformation about economics. Politicians are sold on it and so we see wage stagnation, homeless sleeping rough, Students with long term debt and consumers in general with little spare cash to help out the Real economy. All can be remedied by changing the economics, but the rentier parasites are paying and only their side gets pushed.

    We really do need a crash and reset. But maybe we could do better and read up on the underside that shows up the usa today

    1. John,

      “I thought you were anti the doomsters?”

      First, my vision of our future has turned darker. See A new, dark picture of America’s future. But that’s neither “doom” nor a cause for despair, as explained in On this Independence Day, See The Future of America. “Nothing is written” determining our future. It lies in our hands.

      “I see economics as the prime motivator for the hollowing out of society”

      If only good fortune would come from our resolute and feverish efforts to blame anyone and anything but ourselves for our fate!

      “We really do need a crash and reset.”

      Too dumb to deserve comment, considering the suffering you so casually wish upon us. But it is a nice illustration of how so many Americans dream of desperate events that will absolve us of the need to work for our future!

  9. GuyFromFarAway

    Good day Larry,

    I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, but this is the first time I write a comment here. Before beginning, I have to state that I’m French and never went to the United States, which could led me to wrong or ignorant analyses – and, of course, terrible spelling and grammar. I will try to keep those in check, and hope I will have something interesting to add to the conversation.

    I believe one of the main reasons that political debates today feel so weird and detached for reality is because, in what was only a matter of decades, the dominant bloc freed itself from the elements that structured our societies for son long : the nation-state. Beginning in the 18th century, the bourgeoisie, as Marx said, worked to build a national sentiment and a theory of national legitimacy in most of western countries, to use the nation as a force against hereditary nobility and absolutism. The bourgeois regime, the capitalist republic, proved itself far superior to the feudal Old Regime, and was even able to adapt to the profund democratization and development of the welfare system that the lower classes fought for. By the onset of the 20th century, it formed a rather coherent system, not perfect but potent, where both capital owners and workers had some common interests, had to pay some attention to each others to keep the system functioning, and had an ideology inducing them to do so. Politics could be weird at time (eg. Weimar Republic, anti-communist hysteria…), but I believe that most of this time in the West, national interest was as the heart of most debates. Even the rare post-national ideologies like communism went nationalist once in power.

    But globalization changed things : by the 1980s, the bourgeois didn’t need the nation-state anymore. Where they once needed national workers to work for them and then buy their products, they could use foreign workers and foreign consumers, and there was an apparently unlimited supply of those. As for those jobs that couldn’t get done from China or India – mall clerks, nannies… -, they only had to bring those foreign workers in. They would cost less, wouldn’t complain, would vote the right way wouldn’t unionize and so on. National interest was now barely interesting for the 1%. And they weren’t alone : unlike in 18 or 19th century capitalism, 20 and 21th century capitalism had developed a large petty-bourgeois class of managers and white collar workers working in service industries – protected from globalization (can’t ship Silicon Valley to China) and benefiting from globalization (can buy cheap products from China). They, too, don’t have to care about the nation-state anymore and are the main recruitment pool of white liberals. They indulges in post-modernist ideologies that make them feel morally superior, while at the same times expels from the public space the debates that we should have about the economy and the future of our countries. As they don’t need a country anymore (or so they think), to care about it is odious to them.

    This is why, I think, it’s hard to make sense of today’s debates : those who debates don’t care about the things we care about, and cares about things that we don’t care about or that are even dangerous to the rest of the country. Having participated in the Yellow Vests protests in Paris and talked with protesters, I believe the lower classes have not yet understood that the economic and intellectual elites of their countries have turned on them. It seems to be more the case in the United States, but it has come at the price of an highly polarized situation who, I believe, will end badly.

    As for what to do, I believe that the priorities are different in our respective countries. In France, and Europe at large, populist forces have demonstrated time and time again crass incompetence, inaptitude to build a coherent (not to say serious) policy program and to defend their views in debates against members of the establishment (eg. the National Rally recently decided to drop the euro exit from their program). I think a lot of progress could be made there, helping both debate quality, electability and good governance, and that it could be done by organizations external to parties (think tank, political associations, etc.). I’m not sure that this is the case in America, though. Each of your two parties has a large ecosystem of political satellites – foundations, think tank, lobbies… – working and pushing policies of their liking, and a large number of experimented personnel from witch to choose. But maybe their work is insufficient, and their policies bogus.


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